Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has been ordered by a jury to pay more than $2 million in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims the company’s medicine, Actos, led to cancer of her bladder.
According to Business Week, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company began selling Actos, a diabetes medicine, in 1999. Since then the drug has generated more than $16 billion in revenue, and at the end of March 2011 had sales reaching $4.5 billion.
Actos profits in 2011 accounted for 27% of the company’s revenue at the time. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. is currently Asia’s largest drug maker but faces competition with another company called Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.
Frances Wisniewski, a 79-year-old retired accountant from Norristown, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against Takeda claiming the company failed to warn her about risks associated with the drug. Wisniewski stated she contracted bladder cancer as a direct result of the medication.
During the trial, which took more than three weeks, Wisniewski’s attorney, Mike Miller, presented evidence that Takeda intentionally destroyed documents concerning the development, marketing, and sales of Actos.
According to court filings, the company discarded files of 46 former and current employees, which included top executives in Japan as well as U.S. sales representatives. Former Actos users testified Takeda researchers ignored and disregarded concerns about the drug’s cancer risk and misled U.S. regulators before it went on sale in the U.S. During the trial; however, Takeda argued smoking was the likely cause of Wisniewski’s cancer rather than Actos.
Craig Thompson, one of the company’s attorneys, stated in his closing argument that Wisniewksi “had many risk factors” for cancer other than the medicine. Nevertheless, after more than five hours of deliberation, the jurors in the state court of Philadelphia found officials of Osaka, Japan-based Takeda, failed to properly warn Wisniewski’s doctors about Actos’s cancer risk.
Miller stated in an interview, “She’s got a life of bladder cancer; it’s a fair verdict.” Kenneth D. Greisman, Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc.’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement, “Takeda respectfully disagrees with the verdict and we intend to challenge this outcome.”
Wisniewski is not the first to file a lawsuit, a $9 billion verdict took place in Louisiana earlier this year against Takeda and Eli Lilly & Co. for allegedly hiding diabetes medicine’s risk. Wisniewski is also currently the seventh Actos patient to take her suit to trial.
In 2013, Takeda was ordered to pay a total of $8.2 million in damages by juries in California and Maryland over the company’s manner of handling the drug however the verdicts were later thrown out by judges. The pharmaceutical company also won defense verdicts in two cases in the state court in Las Vegas as well as one in state court in Illinois.
According to court dockets though, more than 3,500 Actos suits have been consolidated in Louisiana before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty for pretrial information exchange. In the state courts of Illinois, West Virginia, California and Pennsylvania, Takeda still faces another 4,500 cases the first of which will begin on October 15 in West Virginia.