The Cook County Record May 4, 2015, 10:35am

Takeda Pharmaceutical has agreed to pay out more than $2.3 billion to settle a rash of lawsuits now pending against the company over allegations one of its drugs has caused bladder cancer in many who took the medication.

Takeda, a Japanese company which operates its North American business out of its headquarters in Deerfield, said the settlement would “resolve the vast majority” of product liability lawsuits Takeda is litigating over its Actos diabetes medication.

The settlement was announced simultaneously last week by the firm of Meyers & Flowers, trial lawyers with offices in Chicago and St. Charles.

In the statement released by the firm, attorney Peter J. Flowers, who served as co-lead counsel in many of the cases, said the settlement would cover more than 9,000 who have complained in courts across the country Takeda concealed the risk of the development of bladder cancer among those using Actos.

Flowers said the settlement will include more than 4,000 who filed complaints against Takeda in Cook County.

“It has been determined that Takeda Pharmaceutical knew about the link between Actos and the risk of bladder cancer before this defective drug was released on the market more than a decade ago,” Flowers said in the firm’s statement. “Takeda has a responsibility to physicians and patients to clinically test a drug and accurately warn them of potentially harmful side effects.”

Takeda has marketed Actos since 1999, promoting the drug to help people suffering from Type 2 diabetes manager their blood sugar. Flowers estimated the company has amassed more than $16 billion in sales of Actos in the 16 years since its release.

In June 2011, the federal Food and Drug Administration warned long-term Actos users – defines as those using the drug for more than a year - could develop bladder cancer. While the FDA conducted more studies into the long-term effects of the drug, other countries, including France and Germany pulled it from circulation.

In the firm’s statement, Flowers said those suing Takeda suffered “excruciating pain” from the effects of the drug, and endured chemotherapy and, in some cases, surgeries to remove their bladders, among other impacts, as a result of using Actos and developing bladder cancer.

“Due to Takeda’s negligence in informing the public of the cancer risk, this settlement will recover some compensation for the victims who have been injured and, in some cases, maimed by bladder cancer while taking Actos, a drug that was designed to improve their health, not make it worse,” Flowers said in the statement.

In its announcement, Takeda said it continues to believe the claims made in the complaints against it concerning Actos are “without merit” and the company said it “does not admit liability.”

Takeda said it intends to continue marketing Actos in the U.S., Japan, Australia, Brazil and Russia, among other countries, as a diabetes treatment.

According to the statements, the $2.37 billion settlement will become effective if 95 percent of those currently suing Takeda opt into the settlement. If 97 percent agree, the payout will increase to $2.4 billion.

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