Before Tom Harbert died, he wanted to warn others not to let suspicious symptoms go unchecked. By the time he doctors found the source of his painful abdominal cramps, the cancerous tumor in his bladder had already made its way through the bladder wall. Doctors told him the prognosis was grim.
About 70,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year and about 15,600 die from the disease annually. The No. 1 risk factor for bladder cancer is smoking. But Harbert, 51, was not a smoker nor was he around any chemicals that would have increased his risk for developing the disease. He was a type 2 diabetic and had taken the drug Actos for 10 years before his diagnosis. He later learned that the drug more than doubles the risk of bladder cancer in people who use it for more than a year.
He said it hurts to think that a drug that is supposed to help improve his life actually may have taken it prematurely. Harbert underwent surgery to remove his bladder and underwent chemotherapy but the aggressive cancer prevailed in the end. He died Dec. 1.
Several lawsuits have been filed against Actos maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals claiming the company withheld information about the risks associated with Actos, including a milestone $9 billion judgment against the company in a lawsuit filed by another man who developed bladder cancer after using Actos.
Financial compensation will not make up for the ultimate price her husband had to pay, Tom Harbert’s wife Cindy said.
“People have to know that bladder cancer exists and know the risk factors,” she said. “We have two daughters who are 20 and 15 and they’re going to have a life without their dad. That’s been the most difficult thing to swallow.”
Source: Penn Live