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Actos Bladder Cancer MDL Litigation Lurches Forward to March 22 Start

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Lafayette, LAWith just a few days remaining prior to the March 22 status conference relating to Actos Multidistrict Litigation (MDL 2299), US District Court Judge Rebecca Doherty for the United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana has appointed no fewer than 19 attorneys representing various plaintiffs in the consolidated litigation to manage the US claims over Actos bladder cancer.

On Friday (3/16/12), the Court appointed a Special Master, Deputy Special Master and Deputy Special Master-Plaintiff side, according to a note posted on the Court website.

March 22 and 23 will represent the first beginnings of a process that will ultimately prove or disprove co-defendant Takeda Pharmaceutical's guilt or innocence in a court of law. The Actos bladder cancer lawsuits were consolidated last year in Lafayette.

Takeda is the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in Asia. The maker of Actos enjoyed a windfall with its Type 2 Diabetes drug after Avandia, a competing drug manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and at the time a market leader in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, was bedeviled with a litany of adverse reactions, including risk of heart attack.

Doctors switched their diabetes patients over to Actos in droves believing Actos to be the safer alternative. While Takeda never maintained that Actos was completely free of risk, researchers agreed with Takeda that Actos carried less risk for Actos heart failure than Avandia—a claim disputed by GlaxoSmithKline.

Now, it seems, that initial wave of success for Takeda has come home to roost with the link to Actos bladder cancer, among other Actos side effects.

With less than a week to go before the start of proceedings in Lafayette, Judge Doherty noted in a web posting March 12 (also carried in a Bloomberg report 3/13/12, "The court has determined to effect the selection of lead counsel, liaison counsel and plaintiffs' executive and steering committees before the March 22nd–23rd status conference." The statement was posted on the Court's website last week.

With the Actos and bladder cancer litigation claim that Actos not only caused plaintiffs to have bladder cancer, co-defendants Takeda and Eli Lilly & Co. are accused of withholding information about the bladder cancer risk, and failure to provide adequate warnings to patients and the medical community. It should be noted that Takeda pulled Actos from markets in Germany and France in 2011, but so far the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not urged nor mandated a similar response in the US.

Despite the risk of Actos bladder cancer and other Actos side effects including Actos macular edema, Actos remains the top-selling drug for Takeda. "Given that litigation is pending, we can't comment," said Jocelyn Gerst, a US-based spokeswoman for Takeda. Gerst was responding to the selection of plaintiff attorneys in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News.

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