October 28, 2014 — Eli Lilly & Co. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals have successfully cut over 99% off a $9 billion jury verdict, resulting in a $36.8 million price-tag for concealing the bladder cancer risk of Actos (pioglitazone).
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty ruled that punitive damages were allowed but excessive, and should be reduced to the maximum amount under federal law, according to Bloomberg.
Takeda is responsible for paying $27.6 million in punitive damages and Lilly must pay $9.2 million, on top of $1.5 million in compensation for plaintiff Terrence Allen and his wife. Allen developed bladder cancer after taking Actos for more than five years beginning in 2006.
A major factor behind the jury’s record-setting award was Takeda’s destruction of documents on 46 current and former employees, including top executives involved in the development and marketing of Actos. Judge Doherty told the jury they were allowed to infer that the documents contained critical evidence.
Attorneys accused Takeda of concealing evidence of bladder cancer to protect $4.5 billion a year in sales of Actos. In June 2011, the FDA warned about studies linking Actos to a 40% increased risk of bladder cancer. Sales plummeted shortly thereafter.
According to Law360, Judge Doherty wrote in her opinion:
“It would be short-sighted not to recognize that corporations boasting sales of one product of almost $24 billion and a value of $40 billion are financially capable of simply absorbing losses that might seem large to the lay public, but are, in fact, small when compared to the profits made and degree of wealth involved.”
Lawyers for Takeda have vowed to appeal.
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