Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical is not happy with a recent verdict in a lawsuit targeting the company for hiding the cancer risks of using diabetes medication Actos. The jury that heard the care reportedly requested that the company pay $6 billion in punitive damages. Eli Lilly and Co, the company that helped promote the drug between 1999 and 2006, was ordered to pay $3 billion in punitive damages. Ultimately, however, that company’s damages will fall on Takeda according to an agreement.
At this point, it isn’t clear whether the massive award will hold up after the litigation runs its course. Takeda has said it plans to pursue all available legal avenues to relieve itself of the verdict, which could mean it takes awhile before the dust settles and we know how this fight ends. The like that the punitive damages award will be lowered is not unlikely, though.
Prescription medication, as readers know, always involves some amount of risk. As consumers and patients, though, we expect that our doctors and the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture our medications will inform us of potential side effects. When pharmaceutical companies knowingly hide these risks, they can be held responsible for the damages.
When it comes to defective drug litigation, it is important for consumers to work with an experienced attorney who understands the issues that can come up in these cases, as well as how to advocate for clients in that context. Drug companies have a lot of financial resources to take these cases on, while consumers are the proverbial small guys. Having a zealous advocate can help a lot.
Source: Reuters, “Japan drugmaker Takeda to fight $6 billion damages imposed by U.S. jury,” Daniel Levine, April 8, 2014.