A Louisiana jury has rendered one of the biggest damage verdicts ever imposed, ordering a Japanese drugmaker, and its American partner, to pay $9 billion in punitive damages over a diabetes drug that has been linked to cancer.
The jury ordered Takeda Pharmaceutical to pay $6 billion in punitive damages, meant to punish the drugmaker for hiding cancer risks of its diabetes drug Actos from patients. Eli Lilly, which had marketed the drug in the United States, was ordered to pay $3 billion. Both Takeda and Lilly indicated they would appeal the verdict.
While these are the types of verdicts that send lobbyists screaming to their politicians about excessive jury awards and the need for tort reform, bladder cancer drug injuries are serious and often require legal representation from an experienced Actos attorney.
Actos injuries - and lawsuits - are on the rise
This Actos lawsuit is one of thousands faced by the company, which has sold more than $16 billion in Actos in the United States since 1999. The jury in this case found Takeda knew about the link between Actos and bladder cancer for years, but withheld the information from patients and doctors. The case was filed by a New York man who began taking Actos for diabetes in 2006 and was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011. Plaintiff attorneys pointed to the outrageous conduct of the drugmaker as the reason for the enormous verdict, which the New York Times reported is the seventh-largest punitive damage award in U.S. history.
Punitive damages are meant to send a clear message to company, and to discourage illegal behavior, particularly when such behavior violates the very tenants of patient care for the sake of padding profits. Takeda is still making money in the U.S., and in fact reported $16 billion in U.S. sales in its Fiscal 2012 Financial Results. Elli Lilly's full year 2013 revenue was up 2 percent to $23.1 billion.
Overall Actos sales peaked in 2011 at $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of the company's revenue at that time. That's when the Food and Drug Administration began requiring Actos prescriptions to include a warning label about the risks of bladder cancer. The government estimates those who took the drug for more than a year had a 40 percent higher risk of developing bladder cancer. The drug has already been banned in France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Japan.
Record verdict sends message to pharmaceutical industry
The reality is that these companies will continue with business as usual, using every tactic of appeal and delay, and will almost certainly never be forced to pay this verdict. As Bloomberg reports, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled punitive verdicts must be proportional to compensatory damages - or actual losses associated with the case. In rare cases, the court has allowed punitive damages 10 times actual damages. In this case, actual damages totaled about $1.5 million, which would put maximum punitive damages at about $15 million.
The bottom line is that as long as Big Pharma continues to put profit ahead of consumer safety, patients must remain vigilant, conduct their own due diligence when prescribed a medication, and seek qualified legal help in the vent of injury.
A product liability attorney can help victims injured by dangerous drugs. Contact DeCarlo Law today at 877-572-0065 to schedule a consultation.