Lawyer: Actos not ‘snake oil’ for diabetes

Actos has been used for years to reduce blood-sugar levels in patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a lawyer for the drug’s manufacturer said Tuesday.

And the lawyer, Craig Thompson, reminded jurors that diabetes “is a very serious, progressive disease.”

“The idea that Actos is a snake oil is simply incorrect,” said Thompson, who represents Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

Thompson made the comments during the second and final day of closing arguments in a Las Vegas trial that began three months ago against the Japanese company.

Jurors deliberated about an hour Tuesday afternoon and are scheduled to resume their discussions at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The case stems from separate lawsuits filed by two women, Henderson resident Delores Cipriano and Las Vegas resident Bertha Triana, who were diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking the prescription drug pioglitazone. Takeda makes the medication under the trade name Actos.

Both women claim their cancer was caused by the drug.

Thousands of plaintiffs across the country have filed product liability lawsuits against Takeda. The company is accused of failing to inform consumers and medical professionals about the risk of bladder cancer associated with the use of Actos, which went on sale in the United States in 1999.

In June 2011, the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety announcement stating that use of Actos for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Cipriano, 81, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in July 2012. Triana, 80, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in May 2012.

Thompson said Triana took Actos for a total of 20 months between late 2005 and early 2008. The lawyer said the Actos label accurately reflected the information that was available at the time.

“There was no failure to warn, ladies and gentlemen,” Thompson told the jury.

Attorney David Wall, who represents Cipriano, said she took Actos for at least nine months. She first took it in August 2010.

“The studies show that even short-term use of Actos can cause bladder cancer,” Wall told jurors.

He argued that Takeda failed to include a warning about bladder cancer with the drug during the relevant times in the case.

“They consciously disregarded the risk,” the lawyer said.

Cipriano and Triana sat in court during Tuesday’s proceedings. Wall said both women had “a basic right and a basic expectation” that the medicine they took would not harm them.

“These are not numbers in a study,” the lawyer said, gesturing toward the women. “They are good human beings. They trusted Takeda, and they suffered dearly for it.”

District Judge Kerry Earley is presiding over the trial, which began with jury selection on Feb. 10.

On Monday, attorney Robert Eglet asked the jury to award Triana $35 million and Cipriano $25 million in compensatory damages, along with another $3.5 to $5.25 million for Triana’s husband, Hiram, for loss of consortium.

Eglet has said he also plans to ask for a “couple billion dollars” in punitive damages.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.