An Actos settlement of $2.4 billion to pay some 9,000 cases brought by U.S. citizens who allege Actos’ maker Takeda concealed the drug’s cancer risks. Actos is a diabetes medicine sold by the Osaka, Japan company. Takeda lost five lawsuits in which plaintiffs charged that Actos raised the risk of bladder cancer, including one case in which a jury awarded a man $9 billion for his bladder cancer. (An award later lowered – by 99%, by a judge – of course.)
Actos Settlement Parameters
Takeda Pharmaceutical officials said 95 percent of the claimants must enter the settlement before Takeda will put the funds into it. Takeda also said it will add an additional $300 million (bringing the total to $2.4 billion) if the Actos settlement participation rate reaches 97 percent. But if the settlement garners less than 95 percent of claimants, Takeda is still expected by legal experts to follow through on the deal.
The settlement terms mean that claimants who sign onto it will each receive more than $296,000. Payments may be reduced – according to Bloomberg reports from non-authorized spokespersons – depending on age, smoking history, exposure to toxins.
An Imperfect Solution
“Large settlements are always an imperfect mechanism to resolve drug injury cases,” said attorney David Matthews, whose firm represents several clients who allege Actos injury. “Some will always feel they are not being compensated adequately. I sympathize and completely agree with them more often than not. It can often feel like the mass tort system is a ‘one-size fits nobody’ deal. The up side is that some compensation is always better than none at all, and the mass tort system in this country is still head and shoulders above that in any other.”
Actos Settlement follows $9 billion Jury Verdict
The settlement was triggered in part by a federal jury’s verdict last year that ordered Takeda and Eli Lilly & Co. to pay $9 billion in damages to a shopkeeper who said Actos caused his bladder cancer. A judge later reduced the award by more than 99 percent, to $36.8 million.
Largest Settlement since Vioxx
The Actos setlement is one of the largest U.S. settlements of suits targeting a drug’s side effects since the 2007 Vioxx settlement. In that record-setting arrangement, Merck & Co. agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle about 30,000 lawsuits.
In early April 2015, Takeda offered more than $2.2 billion to settle most of the Actos cases. Plaintiffs’ lawyers leading the litigation negotiated for the additional monies, but some lawyers for some Actos litigants could still object to the settlement agreement.
The settlement could be opposed by some former Actos users who may feel that it doesn’t provide proper compensation for their injuries.
Actos has generated more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release, according to court filings. According to Bloomberg, Actos sales peaked in the year ended March 31, 2011, at $4.5 billion and accounted for 27 percent of Takeda’s revenue at the time. The drug now faces generic competition.
Actos MDL Court
More than 3,500 Actos suits have been consolidated in multi district litigation in Lafayette, Louisiana, before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty. According to court records, some 4,500 other cases have been filed in state courts in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.
Actos Trials lost by Takeda
Takeda has lost five of the nine trials it has faced over Actos and its bladder cancer risks. The company won three defense verdicts, and had some damage awards thrown out by judges.
Actos litigants argued that Takeda executives ignored or downplayed the drug’s cancer-causing potential before it went on sale in the U.S. in 1999. They argued that Takeda misled U.S. regulators about Actos’ safety profile.
Takeda and Eli Lilly – Actos Partners
Lilly partnered with Takeda’s in the U.S. to sell and market Actos over a seven year period that began in 1999. Though the partnership ended in 2006, Lilly retained rights to sell Actos in parts of Asia, Europe, Canada and Mexico. Lilly contends that Takeda agreed to cover all legal costs growing from U.S. sales of Actos, including the large Louisiana verdict.
Actos MDL Court
Consolidated Actos cases in Louisiana are In Re Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, 11-md-02299, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).