Asia's biggest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., may face as many as 10,000 lawsuits in U.S. courts over allegations that its Actos diabetes drug causes bladder cancer. U.S. regulators found in June that an analysis of a company-sponsored epidemiological study showed some users of Actos faced an increased risk of developing potentially fatal bladder cancer.
Actos is the world’s best-selling diabetes medication. Japan-based Takeda this year pulled Actos off the market in Germany and France after it was linked to an increased cancer risk. Actos is also Takeda's top-selling drug with sales of 387.9 billion yen ($4.8 billion) in the last fiscal year, 27 percent of the company’s revenue.
On December 1st, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) convened a hearing in Savannah, Georgia to decide whether all federal court Actos bladder cancer suits should be consolidated before one federal court judge for purposes of pre-trial proceedings. Attorneys at the hearing argued in favor of U.S. District Judges James Zagel in Chicago, Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, La., Daniel Polster in Cleveland, and a federal district court in Birmingham. The theory behind consolidation is that it is more efficient because it streamlines the discovery process, including voluminous document exchanges, by avoiding duplicity and inconsistent rulings. The reality is that state court pharmaceutical litigation often progresses to trial faster than the MDL process.