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Jury Awards $9 Billion in Damages Over Actos Bladder Cancer Risks, 7th Largest Award in US History

Apr 8, 2014

Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. were ordered to pay a combined $9 billion in punitive damages to Terrence Allen after a federal jury found they hid the cancer risks of the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone).

After deliberating for about four hours, the jury found Takeda and Lilly “failed to adequately warn” about the bladder cancer risks and also that the drug caused Allen’s disease, Bloomberg News reports. The jury said Takeda and Lilly executives “acted with wanton and reckless disregard” for patient safety, which justified a punitive damage award against both companies. Takeda was ordered to pay $6 billion and Eli Lilly $3 billion.

Parker Waichman LLP has had a leadership role throughout the Actos litigation. Jerrold S. Parker, founding partner of the firm, serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

Allen alleged that he developed bladder cancer after taking Actos for more than five years starting in 2006. His attorneys said Takeda executives ignored or downplayed the drug’s cancer risks and misled regulators about those risks to protect billions in sales. Takeda didn’t provide a specific warning about Actos’ cancer risks until 2011, seven years after experts said the bladder cancer link became clear and 12 years after the drug went on the U.S. market, Bloomberg reports. Takeda recently halted development of another diabetes drug (TAK-875, fasiglifam) after research linked the drug to liver damage. Studies in the British Medical Journal and the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed the increased likelihood of Actos users developing bladder cancer.

More than 2,700 Actos suits have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Louisiana for pretrial information exchanges, according to court dockets. Doherty presided over the Allen trial, Bloomberg reports. In addition to the federal lawsuits, the drug makers face hundreds of claims in state courts including Nevada and Illinois.

At their peak, in the year ending in March 2011, Actos sales were $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue, according to Bloomberg News. Worldwide, Actos sales have amounted to more than $16 billion since its 1999 release, court filings indicate. Takeda now faces generic competition from Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., and its earnings have declined. Eli Lilly has lost revenue on pain and schizophrenia drugs due to lower-priced generics.

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