Thursday, March 5, 2015 - A Pennsylvania jury ruled against Takeda Pharmaceuticals this week to the tune of over $3.5 million in a lawsuit over the company‘s diabetes Type 2 drug Actos. The man who sued Takeda in the case claimed that Actos was directly linked to his development of bladder cancer, resulting in the eventual removal of the organ. The drug manufacturer was sent a direct message with over a third of the total awarded funds categorized as punitive damages for the company‘s "reckless indifference" in relation to Actos side effects.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $3.6 million total in damages, $2.3 million compensatory and an extra $1.3 million allocated in the punitive award. The second punitive award given in individual lawsuits signifies the sustaining severity of claims made against Takeda even after initial settlement rulings in Actos multidistrict litigation have taken place. It was also the fifth time compensatory damages have been awarded to individual plaintiffs suing Takeda.
Actos is a drug intended to assist adults with diabetes Type 2 regulate their blood sugar. Plaintiffs claim the drug may have caused bladder cancer in up to 40 percent of patients who took the medication for more than one year. According to Takeda, the drug was at first intended to improve the use of body-produced insulin in patients with Type 2 diabetes by curbing the amount of blood sugar coming from the liver. However, plaintiffs in the nationwide lawsuit claim that Takeda was aware of the risks the medication created in regards to the development of bladder cancer and with that knowledge continued to make the drug available to the public.
Actos, which was first released in 1999, received public warnings issued by the FDA in 2011 after a 10-year study showed a possible link between Actos and bladder cancer. In the Pennsylvania case, Takeda acknowledged that the link between its drug and bladder cancer existed, but claimed there was no proof that link was in play concerning the plaintiff‘s contraction of the disease. Instead they placed the blame on the lifestyle of the man, highlighting his obesity and smoking habits as possible sources of the disease.
The jury found that Actos was a major contributor to the plaintiff‘s bladder cancer and that Takeda had acted recklessly in the lack of warning it gave physicians prescribing the drug to their patients. The plaintiff awarded damages in the Pennsylvania case was a 74-year-old man that had been taking Actos to counteract diabetes Type 2. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2008, however continued to take Actos as he was unaware of the connection the drug held with his condition until the FDA made their public warning in 2011. This scenario exemplifies the thousands of claims alleging Takeda‘s failure to notify doctors and patients about the possible dangers of their drug recklessly increased the cancer risk of cancer for Actos users.
A $6 billion dollar punitive penalty awarded to over 3,500 plaintiffs in Actos multidistrict litigation was reduced to only $36.8 million in October, and Takeda plans to appeal that ruling. On top of multidistrict litigation, the pharmaceutical company also faces more than 4,500 lawsuits at the state level over its Actos medication. The next trial is scheduled to take place this month in Wisconsin.