Judge Shelly Robins, from Pennsylvania has denied the appeal of a $2 million verdict awarded in October to a plaintiff who blamed Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s drug Actos was a significant contributor to her developing bladder cancer.
In an order docketed on Friday, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Shelly Robins New rejected the company’s post-trial motions, in which they had argued that the jury’s verdict overstepped the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authority.
The judge also added nearly $100,000 in delay damages, leading to a total judgment of $2.1 M.
Takeda Knew in 2004 of Cancer Link
According to court documents, Takeda knew by 2004 that studies found links between Actos and cancer, and didn’t issue a warning until seven years later to protect billions of dollars in Actos sales.
Takeda Put “Profits Before People”
“Takeda chose to protect profits rather than patients,” Miller, the plaintiff’s attorney, said in closing arguments in Wisniewski’s trial. The company’s main goal was “to protect the product,” Miller added.
4,000 Actos Bladder Cancer Lawsuits in Federal Court
There are more than 4,000 product liability lawsuits filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, which allege that Actos diabetic medication caused patients to develop bladder cancer. These Actos suits have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana, for pretrial discovery, in what is known as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).
Actos: Blockbuster Drug Huge Profits
According to Bloomberg, sales of Actos maxed out in March 2011 at $4.5 billion for Takeda and accounted for 27 percent of the company’s revenue. Actos has raked in more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release.
Wisniewski and other users allege that Takeda researchers ignored or downplayed concerns about the Actos bladder cancer links before it went on sale in the U.S. and misled U.S. regulators about the diabetic medication risks.
Key Documents Destroyed
The jury found that the Takeda officials intentionally destroyed documents about the development, marketing and sales of Actos. The company ditched files of 46 former and current employees, including those of top executives in Japan and U.S. sales representatives. “We’ll never know what was in those documents,” Miller said.
Of eight lawsuits to go to trial, five have resulted in awards to the plaintiffs. These have included $2 million in damages to Wisniewski, and $6.5 million to a man and his wife (Cooper v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., et al, case number CGC-12-518535).
In 2013, juries in California and Maryland ordered Takeda to pay a combined $8.2 million in damages. But those verdicts later were tossed out by judges. The company also won defense verdicts recently in two cases in state court in Las Vegas.
The Pennsylvania case is Wisniewski v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., 120702272, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The consolidated Actos case in Louisiana is In Re Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, 11-md-02299, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).