Firms ordered to pay $9 billion for hiding diabetes medicine cancer risk.
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 12:00 AM

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. lost the first federal court trial in the U.S. over claims it hid the cancer risks of its Actos diabetes medicine to protect billions of dollars in sales.  The jury in Lafayette, Louisiana, on April 7, 2014, awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and will consider a request for punitive damages, ultimately totaling $9 Billion.

Actos sales peaked in the year ended March 2011 at $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue at the time. Actos has generated more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release, according to court filings.


Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. were ordered to pay a combined $9 billion in punitive damages.

Takeda and Lilly officials said they’d appeal the jury verdict, which may be the largest single award in U.S. history over a drugmaker’s mishandling of a product.“Takeda respectfully disagrees with the verdict and we intend to vigorously challenge this outcome through all available legal means, including possible post-trial motions and an appeal,” Kenneth Greisman, general counsel for Takeda’s U.S. unit, said in an e-mailed statement.

Takeda officials intentionally destroyed documents about the development, marking and sales of Actos, the plaintiff's attorney  said. The company ditched files of 46 former and current employees, including those of top executives in Japan and U.S. sales representatives, he said.

Because Takeda failed to properly protect the Actos documents, the Judge penalized the company by instructing jurors they could infer that the files may have buttressed the plaintiff's claims the company wrongfully hid the medication’s health risks.

“The breadth of Takeda leadership whose files have been lost, deleted or destroyed is, in and of itself, disturbing,” the judge wrote in a January ruling that opened the door for jurors to hear about the destroyed documents.

After deliberating for about four hours April 7, 2014, jurors found Takeda and Lilly “failed to adequately warn” about Actos’ bladder-cancer risks and that the drug caused the platintiff's disease, according to court filings.

Jurors also found Takeda and Lilly executives “acted with wanton and reckless disregard” for patients’ safety in their handling of the drug and that justified a punitive damage award against both companies.

“This verdict sends a message that you must put the health and safety of Americans ahead of profits or American juries will have the courage and resolve to hold global corporations accountable,” Neil Overholtz, a Florida lawyer who represents former Actos users, said in an e-mailed statement.