(Updates with excerpt of panel ruling in third paragraph.)
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Lawsuits against Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Asia’s biggest drugmaker, claiming its Actos diabetes drug causes bladder cancer will be consolidated before one judge in federal court in Louisiana, a judicial panel said.
The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation sent the lawsuits to the Western District of Louisiana, in Lafayette, to be overseen by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty. Doherty will coordinate pretrial proceedings, including evidence- gathering.
“Centralization in the Western District of Louisiana will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the panel ruled yesterday. It will also allow “the panel to assign the litigation to an experienced judge who sits in a district in which no other multidistrict litigation is pending.”
The lawsuits claim that patients who use Actos, a prescription drug approved for the use in treating type 2 diabetes, increases the risk of bladder cancer. The plaintiffs also claim that Takeda and co-defendant Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. withheld information about the risk and failed to provide adequate warnings.
Sara Gourley, an attorney for Osaka, Japan-based Takeda, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
The company said in a September filing that 54 federal lawsuits had been filed by then. Dozens more suits have been added in federal court since, according to court records.
Several thousand patients have contacted plaintiffs lawyers about filing such suits, Paul J. Pennock, a New York-based lawyer representing former users of the drug, said in an interview last month.
U.S. regulators found in June that an analysis of a Takeda- sponsored study showed some users of Actos, the world’s best- selling diabetes medication, faced an increased risk of developing the potentially fatal disease. The federal lawsuits were all filed in July or later, the federal panel said in yesterday’s ruling.
Takeda officials this year pulled Actos, its top-selling drug, off the market in Germany and France after it was linked to an increased cancer risk.
Takeda had asked the panel to consolidate the cases in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, near the headquarters of five of the company’s units, or the Louisiana court as an alternative. Lawyers for plaintiffs disagreed on the choice of venue, proposing six other courts as well as those in Chicago and Lafayette.
The lawsuits are consolidated in In Re: Actos Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2299, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).
--Editors: Mary Romano, Peter Blumberg
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