If you were diagnosed with bladder cancer after using Actos and are reviewing your legal options, please see my Actos Bladder Cancer Lawyers page for patients. 

I wrote this post for my legal blog, which is ordinarily read by other lawyers. Patients looking for legal help should read the Actos page linked above. 

Personal injury law isn’t like running an ordinary business, not even an ordinary law practice, because of the risk involved in taking cases. Defective drug and consumer products lawsuits exemplify both extremes of our work: the cases are enormously expensive to pursue and require a tremendous amount of attorney time, but they also have the potential to be lucrative blockbusters.

Problem is, once a drug or product is shown to be unreasonably harmful by a study or a recall, there’s no way for us to know for certain what the courts will do with the lawsuits. We don’t roll the dice — it’s much more rational and systematic than that — but we have to play the odds. So it will be with Actos lawsuits: we believe the drug was inadequately tested and didn’t warn patients of the risks, and will vigorously pursue cases against their manufacturer, but the cases aren’t without considerable risk.

Consider the denture cream lawsuits. To paraphrase what I wrote last week while discussing asbestos lawyers, GlaxoSmithKline settled the vast majority of Super Poligrip claims, but Proctor and Gamble fought the Fixodent cases, resulting a judge dismissing one of the bellwhether cases on Daubert grounds.

One of the drug cases trial lawyers are pursuing these days involve Actos (pioglitazone), the best-selling Type 2 Diabetes drug in the world. The Associated Press recently wrote about the “wave of lawsuits” filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals:

TRENTON, N.J. — The maker of the world’s best-selling diabetes drug is facing hundreds of lawsuits and likely a big sales drop as suspicion grows that taking the pill for more than a year raises the risk of bladder cancer. …

both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have issued warnings about the cancer risk based on new research, but they have allowed sales to continue. Doctors are being told not to prescribe Actos for people who have or have had bladder cancer.

The warning will limit patient choices and could spell the end for a once-promising class of Type 2 diabetes drugs that debuted more than a decade ago amid heavy promotion.

An FDA warning that a popular drug increases the risk of any type of cancer or heart disease virtually guarantees the filing of thousands of lawsuits, and pioglitazone is no exception: it raises the risk of bladder cancer by more than 40%, or an “extra 28 cases a year for every 100,000 people taking it.” The irony is why Actos is so popular:

Actos, despite links to heart failure risk and other serious side effects, became the No. 1 diabetes pill after Avandia, the only other drug in that class, was found in 2007 to sharply increase risk of heart attacks. Avandia’s use was banned in the EU and sharply restricted here. Actos sales jumped from about $2.9 billion in 2006 to more than $4.3 billion last year.

Avandia’s restriction, of course, prompted its own wave of lawsuits, and GlaxoSmithKline has settled about 12,000 of them for around $700 million. Assuming the clients are on one-third contingent fee agreements, that’s over $200 million for the lawyers. I don’t say that to be critical; one of those firms, for example, recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an antitrust action just to lose and then also get hit with almost $600,000 in costs. It’s a big-risk, big-reward kind of business, and one of the few elements of society keeping medical products safe in light of the broken clearance processes we have for new drugs and devices.

Which brings me to one of the lessons this episode has for lawyers trying to build a personal injury or product liability law practice.
Continue Reading Lawyer Branding And The Race For Actos Bladder Cancer Clients

They say you learn something new every day. Here’s what you’re going to learn today:

Over-the-counter Motrin can burn the skin off your face.

Commonly prescribed drugs like the yeast-infection treatment Nystatin and the antibiotic Azithromycin can do the same. All of them, and over a dozen other drugs, can also cause ulcers and lesions to develop on the membranes in your mouth and on your lips, making it impossible to eat.

Take a step back and think of how many of those you took in the last year. Who didn’t take Motrin or some other ibuprofen in the past year?

Who didn’t give it to their kid?

Janet Leland gave Children’s Motrin to her nine year old daughter, Kiley Wolfe, just like her pediatrician told her to, to relieve headache, stomach pains, and a fever. As the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania described last week:

Despite taking Children’s Motrin, plaintiff’s symptoms did not improve. Instead, she developed a rash on her cheeks. Nonetheless, nurses at plaintiff’s pediatrician’s office advised Leland to continue administering the drug to plaintiff. Leland proceeded to give plaintiff doses of Children’s Motrin until Saturday, June 1, when she noticed blisters on plaintiff’s ears while the family was staying in Boston.

Later that day, Leland took her daughter to Boston Children’s Hospital. Doctors there diagnosed her with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (‘SJS’) [2] While hospitalized, plaintiff exhibited symptoms of acute Vanishing Bile Duct Syndrome (‘VBDS’). [3] Because of damage to her liver, plaintiff eventually required a liver transplant.


2 SJS is ‘a rare, serious disorder in which your skin and mucous membranes react severely to a medication or infection.’ Mayo Clinic, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stevens-johnson-syndrome/DS00940 The disease is ‘sometimes fatal.’ Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1833 (30th ed. 2003).

3 VBDS is a condition where the bile ducts in the liver are destroyed.

Wolfe v. McNeil-PPC, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34714, at *4–5 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 30, 2011).

Continue Reading Failure To Warn Quiz: Do You Know Children’s Motrin Side Effects?

Big news in yesterday’s Bruesewitz v. Wyeth Supreme Court decision. In short, the Court was asked:

Whether Section 22(b)(1) of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 ["NCVIA"]— which expressly preempts certain design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers “if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the