Monday, April 6, 2015 - Takeda Pharmaceuticals has reportedly offered a $2.2 billion settlement to resolve lawsuits related to the company‘s diabetes drug Actos. Complications from the drug have allegedly been connected to a higher risk of bladder cancer for plaintiffs, many of which have contracted the disease. The proposed settlement would cover more than 8,000 pending cases against the pharmaceutical company, 4,000 of those existing at the federal level. Takeda is one of two major pharmaceutical companies fighting Actos litigation as Eli Lilly & Co. is also involved in litigation concerning the diabetes drug.
The lawsuits were transferred into multidistrict litigation in 2011 and centralized in the Western District of Louisiana where they have been presided over by U.S. District Judge Rebecca F. Doherty. The first bellwether trials in the MDL were record-breaking as a $9 billion jury verdict against Eli Lilly and Takeda was awarded to the plaintiffs. That amount was later revised to $37 million in punitive damages, but a message was sent to the defendants that the claims made by plaintiffs were legitimate and worthy of high-dollar compensation.
If accepted, the proposed settlement offered by Takeda would be the first deal made in multidistrict litigation that has already stretched over four years. Claimants are expected to take home over $275,000 per suit under the settlement terms.
Though the possible settlement could be a large win for plaintiffs affected by the serious side effects of Actos, Takeda still made a good deal of money selling the popular medication. Since its release in 1999, the company has pulled in more than $16 billion from Actos alone, with $4.5 billion of that coming in a 12-month period between 2010-2011. These figures have caused some lawyers representing plaintiffs in the MDL to claim that the $2.2 billion settlement proposed by Takeda falls short of what plaintiffs should be due considering the profits made at the expense of their health.
Plaintiffs in the Actos MDL have claimed that not only did Takeda produce and market drugs that had a direct connection to bladder cancer, but that the company actively attempted to cover up those connections and neglect warning labels that could have helped prevent the serious disease from developing within patients taking the drug.
Additional bellwether trials concerning the MDL are set to take place in 2016. However, these proceedings could be avoided if the settlement meetings are able to resolve the lawsuits in the coming weeks. Takeda is also considering settling the lawsuits via individual law firms as opposed to offering the blanket approach of making a deal that covers all the plaintiffs involved in the MDL.
The proposed MDL settlement will not be the first in all Takeda Actos litigation, as many trials have already run their course in state court. A recent trial in Philadelphia registered the fifth plaintiffs to receive a favorable decision against Takeda in nine attempts. Another trial that took place in Pennsylvania saw the plaintiff receive a $3.6 million award, $1.3 million of which was categorized as punitive damages against the defendants.
Though some countries outside the U.S., such as Germany and France, have discontinued the sale of Actos, the drug is still available in the U.S. complete with a new warning label detailing its connection to bladder cancer.