If you have been treated with the drug Actos (pioglitazone) for type 2 diabetes, your health has been put at risk. The FDA has linked Actos to increased risk of bladder cancer and other serious health complications. Lawsuits have been successfully filed against the maker of Actos and patients and their families have won millions of dollars in damages. If you or someone you love took Actos and developed cancer or other serious health conditions, you should speak to an experienced lawyer immediately.
John Foy & Associates can help. We have over 20 years of experience working on medical injury and defective drug cases, and have become one of the largest and most respected personal injury law firms in the country. We have the resources to take on big pharmaceutical companies and a history of bringing back successful outcomes for our clients. Let us give you a free consultation to discuss your case and your legal options. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
What is Actos?
Actos is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. Specifically, it helps the body better respond to insulin, a natural hormone that helps your body absorb and use glucose, or blood sugar. Individuals with type 2 diabetes still produce insulin but their bodies become insulin resistant, allowing blood sugar to build up to dangerous levels in the blood. When Actos was introduced, it was marketed as being a highly effective way to not only control blood sugar levels, but even help your body become less resistant to insulin.
Because Actos seemed so effective, it also became extremely popular with doctors. It is now the ninth most widely prescribed drug in the United States and doctors write roughly 15 million Actos prescriptions per year. It’s also found in a variety of other medications, including:
- Actoplus Met
- Actoplus Met XR
How does Actos work?
Actos is part of a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones or TZDs for short. This is a relatively recent group of drugs that actually help your body grow new fat cells. These new fat cells are more sensitive to insulin, unlike most cells in a type 2 diabetic which resist insulin. The new cells can help reduce glucose levels and keep blood sugar stable.
There is no question that Actos is effective at what it does. But it also carries serious risks. Earlier drugs in the TZD family were found to cause severe liver damage in some patients. Actos was supposed to be a safer, better alternative—but it turns out this is far from the truth. Actos is now linked with bladder cancer.
Does Actos cause bladder cancer?
Every drug is required to go through clinical trials before it is released to market. During Actos’ initial clinical trials there was no strong link with bladder cancer. However, multiple studies have now shown that patients taking Actos face a much higher risk of bladder cancer.
Doctors now understand the reason why the bladder cancer did not show up in early trials. Researchers have found that risk of bladder cancer goes up when patients take Actos in full doses for a year or longer—not just for a short time. Unfortunately, this is a common way of prescribing Actos. Indeed, many doctors have prescribed it to their patients continuously for years.
How high is the risk of cancer?
It is significant. One study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients are two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer when they take TZD drugs like Actos, than when they take other diabetes medications.
This is especially troubling because diabetes patients are already at higher risk of bladder cancer than the general population is. When you include that added risk, patients on Actos were more than 6 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-diabetics.
This has led to pulling Actos off the market in much of the world. France suspended the use of Actos in 2011, and Germany has suspended it for all new cases. In the United States, the FDA did not suspend Actos but issues a safety communication stating that patients have a 40% higher risk of bladder cancer when taking Actos at high dosage for a year or longer.
Bladder cancer is not the only risk. Other research has suggested that Actos also carries a 41% increase in the chance of pancreatic cancer and a 13% increase in the chance of prostate cancer.
If I was hurt by Actos, who is liable?
Takeda, the company that manufactures Actos, is liable.
Obviously, every medication comes with some side effects. But drug manufacturers have a duty to fully test their drug before bringing it to market, and to warn doctors and patients of all potential risks. Sometimes a doctor will choose to prescribe a medication despite the risks, if it will do more good for the patient than harm. But this is impossible for any doctor to determine if they are not given all the facts.
With Actos, the facts were deliberately hidden from the public. It appears that Takeda knew that Actos caused bladder cancer for up to seven years, but failed to issue any warning to the public in order to protect their profits. That means that for seven years doctors continued prescribing a drug that may cause cancer to millions of patients. Lawsuits against Takeda also state that the company has destroyed documents about the development and marketing of Actos.
In cases like this, the law is clear. Takeda is 100% liable for all cases of bladder cancer caused by their product, and the victims have a right to a financial recovery.
How much money can I recover in an Actos bladder cancer claim?
The law allows victims of dangerous drugs to recover money for all of your damages, including:
- The cost of medical bills and medication
- Long term care and rehabilitation
- Missed work time/missed wages
- Non-economic damages
“Non-economic damages” is a legal term that means all of the intangible losses you can never get back. For example, if you lost a loved one to bladder cancer, there is no amount of money that can ever bring them back or undo the harm, but the law allows you to recover money because it can help you survive the loss without financial hardship. In drug injury cases like Actos, the non-economic damages are often staggeringly large.
In one Actos case in Philadelphia, for example, a retired teacher had developed bladder cancer after taking Actos. The jury awarded him $2.3 million—including all $318,000 of his medical bills plus $2 million in non-economic damages for his suffering.
How do I know if I have an Actos claim?
The best way to find out if you have a claim is to talk to a legal professional. At John Foy & Associates we will sit down with you and your family for free and discuss your case with you. We are currently exploring possible Actos lawsuits for claims including:
- Bladder cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Liver damage
- Heart failure
- Wrongful death
If you or your loved ones have been harmed by Actos, don’t face it alone. Let our experienced legal team help you take your claim to Takeda and get the recovery you deserve. Call John Foy & Associates at 404-400-4000 and get your FREE consultation today.