Actos drug warning cases move to Cook County

The prescription drugs taken by Chicago patients come from medical professionals rather than directly from a drug manufacturer. The so-called “learned intermediary” may be a nurse acting on a physician’s orders, a doctor or a pharmacist.

Drug warnings and adverse side effects are passed on to consumers from drug makers via health care providers. It’s up to product manufacturers to make sure that intermediaries are aware of the limitations of a medication’s use and associated risks. Updates must be provided if new problems occur over time.

Many patients receive verbal instructions about prescription drug use from a doctor and additional written information when the prescription is filled. When something goes wrong, like an incorrect dosage, wrong pill or conflict with existing medication, fault may be traced back to a pharmacist or doctor error. When the pill’s design, manufacture or marketing is defective, however, the drug maker is liable.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals and its associated companies are defendants in four Illinois lawsuits alleging that the drug company failed to include a serious warning with the diabetic drug Actos. The plaintiffs’ October filings said Takeda did not inform consumers that taking Actos for longer than a year could heighten the risk of bladder cancer. The four bladder cancer victims said the drug company knew that long-term use of Actos was potentially dangerous, but did not share that information with the public. Takedo denied the plaintiffs’ claims.

The pharmaceutical company countered by saying that the proper warnings accompanied Actos and were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Takedo asserted that Actos could not be redesigned to remove the cancer risk without “impairing” the diabetes drug’s usefulness.

An “unavoidably unsafe” medication is a drug that contains enough benefits to keep it on the market despite substantial health risks. Consumers have a right to know all potential risks linked to a drug. It’s a manufacturer’s duty to make sure that they receive adequate warnings about all medications.

Source: Madison-St. Clair Record, “Four lawsuits alleging bladder cancer caused by Actos transferred to Cook County” Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Dec. 16, 2013

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Actos drug warning cases move to Cook County