Actos Litigation Update: Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Eli Lilly and Company Ordered to Pay $9 Billion in Punitive Damages

Company-Ordered-to-Pay-9-Billion-in-Punitive-DamagesTakeda Pharmaceutical Company and Eli Lilly and Company were just ordered to pay a total of $9 billion in punitive damages over Actos litigation involving bladder cancer allegations.

Takeda and Eli Lilly lost a bid to have the Actos trial tossed out with the jury having been deemed to have properly considered the case and the settlement amounts having been deemed sound. In this first federal lawsuit, Takeda must pay $6 billion in punitive damages and Eli Lilly has been ordered to pay $3 billion, according to The Japan Times. Takeda and Eli Lilly were Actos sales and marketing partners for several years.

This bellwether is the first federal lawsuit. The action was brought by a man alleging he developed bladder cancer after taking the diabetes drug, Actos; the rulings came after a U.S. jury order issued in April 2014 by the district court in Louisiana. The Court also ordered Takeda to pay $1.27 million in compensatory damages; Eli Lilly was ordered to pay the remainder of the total of $1.5 million in compensatory damages.

Allegations also include that Takeda and Eli Lilly hid cancer risks tied to Actos, according to a prior Bloomberg Businessweek report. The judge in this matter, U.S. District Judge Doherty, ruled that jurors had appropriately considered evidence that found that Takeda and Eli Lilly officials knew that Actos was associated with bladder cancer, but neglected to advise physicians and patients prior to their considering damage amounts associated with the allegations. The verdict may be reduced on appeal, but is now the second largest verdict in 2014 in the U.S. “The jury acted within its role and discretion to attach whatever weight and make whatever reasonable inference it deemed appropriate when assessing the defendants’ conduct,” Judge Doherty wrote in her decision.

The bellwether lawsuit was brought by a couple who, according to court documents, allege that the husband took Actos for his Type 2 diabetes from 2004 through 2011; he developed bladder cancer in 2011. Allegations also include that Actos caused the cancer, that Takeda concealed Actos risks from the public, and that the man would never have taken Actos had he been informed of these risks. Approximately 2,700 lawsuits have been filed into the Actos multidistrict litigation (MDL). Meanwhile, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that using Actos for more than one year could substantially raise this cancer risk; patients with bladder cancer were advised against using Actos.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 59 and judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50, Takeda and Eli Lilly had moved for a new trial, according to a prior National Law Journal report. Plaintiffs previously indicated that a significant amount of evidence supported the jury’s finding of inexcusable behavior, including Takeda’s lack of compliance with a 2002 litigation hold to preserve evidence. The judge found Takeda acted in bad faith by destroying evidence that revealed it knew of Actos’ potential health risks.

Parker Waichman LLP has maintained a leadership role throughout the Actos litigation with founding partner, Jerrold S. Parker, serving on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

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