The cost of hiding the significant risks that diabetes patients faced of developing bladder cancer through the use of Actos is staggering: over $9 billion.
That huge amount of money was awarded a New York store manager by a federal court jury in Louisiana to compensate him for his actual damages and punish the drug’s manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceutical of Japan and its U.S. partner, Eli Lilly.
Lawyers for Terrence Allen, a New York hardware store manager, argued that he developed bladder cancer in 2011 after taking Actos to treat his diabetes for more than five years.
Allen was awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages. He’ll probably be able to keep that, legal experts say. The rest of the jury’s award — more than $9 billion in damages — came in punitive damages to punish the companies for bad acts.
The same legal experts say that that figure probably will be reduced on appeal because there are limits on how much can be awarded in punitive damages.
Either way, it’s a lot of money.
The verdict is the latest in a series of lawsuits in which jurors have awarded damages to Actos bladder cancer victims and there may be many more such trials in which Takeda and Eli Lilly may face huge damages awards.
Allen’s case is one of over 2,700 such federal Actos bladder cancer lawsuits that have been consolidated before U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Doherty in Louisiana.
In addition there are thousands of other Actos bladder cancer lawsuits pending in state courts across the country, including one group of over 3,000 in Illinois, according to court records.
In Allen’s case the jury’s huge punitive damages may have been affected by evidence that Takeda officials hid or destroyed evidence that Allen’s lawyers claimed may have helped them prove their case.
Allen’s lawyers also told jurors that Takeda executives were aware of the dangerous side effect of developing bladder cancer but withheld that information from government regulators and patients who were taking the medication.
“I hope Takeda executives in Japan heard what this jury had to say loudly and clearly,” a lawyer for Allen told reporters after the verdict.