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Takeda Hid Cancer Risks of Actos, Lawyer Tells Jury

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (4502) executives hid the risks of its Actos diabetes drug from consumers and doctors and should be held liable for a former shopkeeper’s cancer, a lawyer said at the start of the first federal trial over the medication.

Officials of Osaka, Japan-based Takeda failed until 2011 to provide any warning that research showed Actos was linked to bladder cancer, duping patients such as Terrence Allen into thinking the drug was safe, Mark Lanier, Allen’s lawyer, told a jury in Lafayette, Louisiana, during opening statements today.

“You’ll hear testimony from Terry’s doctors that if they’d been told the truth about this drug, they would not have given it” to him, Lanier told the seven-woman, two-man jury. Allen, a retired hardware-store manager, is seeking at least $15 million in damages from Takeda.

Takeda, Asia’s largest drugmaker, faces the claims over Actos about a month after it scrapped development of another diabetes drug when research linked it to liver damage. The Louisiana jury is the fourth panel to weigh allegations that Takeda executives sold Actos knowing it could cause cancer and failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the medication’s risks.

Takeda contends Allen’s bladder cancer wasn’t caused by his Actos use and that it properly warned of about the drug’s risks. Researchers haven’t conclusively linked Actos to bladder cancer, Bruce Parker, a company lawyer, said in his opening statement.

‘No Evidence’

“There is no evidence from these studies that there is any connection or causal relationship between Actos and bladder cancer,” Parker said.

Sales of Actos peaked in the year ended March 2011 at $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue at the time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Actos has generated more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release, according to court filings. Takeda now faces generic competition from Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. (RBXY)

Last year, state-court juries in California and Maryland ordered Takeda to pay a total of $8.2 million in damages to former Actos users who sued over the drug. Judges in both states threw out those verdicts. Last month, jurors in state court in Las Vegas rejected claims the company failed to properly warn consumers about Actos’s health risks.

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

To contact the reporters on this story: Daniel Lawton in federal court in Lafayette, Louisiana, at daniel.lawton@gmail.com; Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware, at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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