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Judge Considers Sanctioning Defense in Actos Case

Filed April 29th, 2014 Eric

A Lass Vegas judge is contemplating a request to punish lawyers representing Takeda Pharmaceuticals in a case involving allegations that the company’s diabetes drug Actos caused a woman to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.

District Judge Kerry Earley listened to arguments from an attorney who represents an 81-year-old woman who has filed a lawsuit against Takeda. The lawyer accused Takeda’s defense team of violating court orders and treating the judge disrespectfully during the trial, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The case involves allegations from Henderson resident Delores Cipriano, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in July 2012 after taking Actos. Cipriano and Las Vegas resident Bertha Triana each filed lawsuits against Takeda last year in Clark County District Court against Takeda. Triana, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in May 2012, also alleges her condition is the result of taking Actos. Both cases were consolidated for trial, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Earlier this month, Earley said the behavior of defense counsel during the trial “has been absolutely very egregious,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He backed those statements up by saying the actions have been disrespectful, at the least.

Earley has already reprimanded one of the attorneys for Takeda after he pointed his finger at her and another attorney for rolling her eyes and telling the judge she “was getting emotional,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The judge dealt with the previous behavior because it did not happened in front of a jury, but that changed on April 11 when an incident occurred during a sidebar conference. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Earley read the following admonishment in court:

“I hereby admonish and instruct the jury to disregard any comments made by Ms. Davis at the sidebar which were overheard by the jury, and to further disregard any gestures made by Ms. Davis at the sidebar which were observed by the jury as such actions were inappropriate. I also caution Ms. Davis to refrain from making any loud comment which may be overheard by the jury at the sidebar and to refrain from making any gestures that may be observed by the jury at the sidebar.”

It has been a difficult month for Takeda, which was ordered to pay $6 billion in punitive damages a few weeks ago in another trial involving Actos.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed across the country alleging that Takeda failed to inform consumers and doctors about the risk of bladder cancer associated with the use of the drug. The lawsuits site multiple studies that have found that use of the drug – particularly when taken for two years or more – increases the risk of bladder cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement in June 2011, stating that use of Actos for more than one year may be associated with an elevated risk of bladder cancer. The agency made the decision based on early results of an ongoing 10-year study submitted by Takeda that showed an increased cancer risks in patients that had taken the drug form more than two years.

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