When It Comes to Dangerous Drugs, There’s Power in Numbers

Many years ago I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I beat it, but since then, I only eat fresh, whole foods, drink purified water, try to avoid as many chemicals as possible and use only safe things, like vinegar to clean my home. Of course I avoid tobacco and don’t take any medicines unless its necessary.  

Unfortunately, diabetes runs in my family, and despite my healthy lifestyle, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My doctor put me on a medication called Actos and I was able to control my blood sugar levels very well for a long time.

Then, the bladder cancer came back. I was devastated. After everything, here I was again, staying in hospitals, being poked, prodded, punctured, operated on, beamed with radiation, and infused with chemotherapy drugs. I was trying to stay positive, but failing. I was tired.

It was during one of my treatments that a friend told me that the FDA issued a warning saying that Actos could cause bladder cancer and that it shouldn’t be taken by people who have or have had bladder cancer.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

My doctor said she never would have prescribed the drug if she had known about the risk, and I certainly never would have taken it if I had any idea it could cause the cancer to come back. I did some research and found out that other countries had stopped using the drug because of the risk of bladder cancer, but the drug maker didn’t warn people in the U.S.

I talked to my attorney about suing the maker of Actos, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, when I saw online that lots of other people thought their bladder cancer might be connected to the medicine. Though we talked about filing an individual lawsuit, I thought it would be more powerful if all of us who developed bladder cancer would join together and present this big united front that said “you hurt us and we aren’t going to take it.”

Drug injury lawsuits can take a long time to get through the court system, but unlike an individual suit, when you form a mass tort, it just keeps growing as more people connect the dots.

By 2015, over ten thousand people had joined the mass tort, which is an incredibly powerful number of people, and at that point, Takeda decided it would be easier to just settle. This ended up being one of the biggest drug settlements in history, with the company agreeing to pay $2.4 billion to settle more than 90 percent of the cases filed against it.

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