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Actos Lawsuit Jury Allowed to Hear Testimony About Missing Actos Files

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Lafayette, LAAs the trial for the Actos lawsuit brought by former Actos patient Terrence Allen progresses, the judge hearing the case ruled in late January that the jury should be allowed to hear claims that defendant Takeda Pharmaceuticals wantonly destroyed documents and files related to Actos.

Allen developed Actos bladder cancer after using Actos to treat his type 2 diabetes. He claims in what is the first federal lawsuit in the Actos multidistrict litigation that he didn’t know about the risks for Actos side effects such as bladder cancer at the time the drug was prescribed to him. Plaintiffs allege that Takeda suppressed information.

According to a report in Bloomberg (1/29/14), Takeda has admitted that it can’t locate files compiled by 46 current and former employees of the Japan-based pharmaceutical giant. The employees in question were involved in the development, marketing and sale of Actos, including two directors of the firm. The allegation is that various files were deleted from company computers after executives issued a communique to employees to specifically retain any material related to Actos.

In her ruling, released January 27, 2014, US District Court Judge Rebecca Doherty wrote, “The breadth of Takeda leadership whose files have been lost, deleted or destroyed is, in and of itself, disturbing.”

Her ruling ensures that the jury in the Actos bladder cancer lawsuit will not be denied the opportunity to hear about the missing files. The allegation that Takeda destroyed or misplaced files related to Actos speaks to the claim that Takeda intentionally withheld information about Actos side effects that might have proved damaging to sales.

Bloomberg reported that sales of Actos peaked at $4.5 billion in the year ending March 2011. That performance represented 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue that year, according to Bloomberg. Actos is further reported to have earned more than $16 billion in total from sales of Actos since it arrived to market in 1999.

Actos was historically the Number Two drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, behind Avandia. When GlaxoSmithKline’s drug lost favor as concerns over heart failure and cardiac issues surfaced, many doctors switched their type 2 diabetes patients to Actos, and sales soared. Actos heart failure is also a risk - as it is with Avandia - however, the risk is thought to be less than that of Avandia, with Actos.

The link between Actos and bladder cancer has only surfaced within the last few years.

All eyes are on the Allen bladder cancer lawsuit - as mentioned, the first federal case to go to trial - given the fact that in previous cases, jurors have found for the plaintiffs. However, awards in those cases were set aside due to various legal or jurisdictional technicalities. Judge Doherty’s ruling that a jury can indeed hear about the missing documents adds not only a hint of drama, but further hinders the defendant’s case.

The consolidated Actos cases in Louisiana are In Re Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, 11-md-02299, US District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette). Allen’s case is Allen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., 12-cv-00064, US District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).

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