A $2.3 million verdict was returned against Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc. last month in an Actos case. A Philadelphia jury concluded that the diabetes drug had been a significant cause of a retired Pennsylvania teacher’s bladder cancer and that the man’s doctor had been inadequately warned about the risks. The jury awarded John Kristufek $318,000 in past medical expenses and an additional $2 million in noneconomic damages. This was the second successful effort by Plaintiffs in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to hold the Japanese drugmaker legally responsible for injuries caused by the use of Actos.
The jury also opened the door for punitive damages against the company by finding that Takeda had acted with reckless disregard for patients in its development and marketing of the drug. One day after the $2.3 million compensatory damages award, the jury handed down an additional $1.3 million in punitive damages against the drug company for its reckless indifference in the health of the Plaintiff.
Kristufek, a Pennsylvania resident, filed suit in July 2012 alleging that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2008 after using Actos for about three years. The verdict came after nearly a month of testimony in the case. He alleged that Takeda’s efforts to obscure the drug’s association with bladder cancer had left his prescribing physician unaware of the risks until shortly after he was forced to have his bladder removed entirely in July 2011. The drug’s label was updated in the weeks after Kristufek’s bladder removal to indicate that use of pioglitazone-based medications, such as Actos, for more than a year was associated with an increased cancer risk. The warning remains on the drug’s label today. The damages awarded to Kristufek come on the heels of a $2 million verdict that was awarded to a Philadelphia-area woman who similarly claimed that Actos had caused her to develop bladder cancer. The verdict will be appealed to the state’s Superior Court.
Takeda has faced a number of jury verdicts in favor of Plaintiffs over Actos-related claims. The biggest blow to the company has been a $6 billion verdict awarded to Plaintiffs in April 2014 as part of multidistrict litigation in Louisiana. In that case, Plaintiffs alleged that Takeda and its U.S.-based marketing partner Eli Lilly & Co. concealed the risks of bladder cancer carried by the drug from physicians and consumers.
While a federal judge reduced the punitive damages to $36.8 million in October, the company plans to appeal the award. Kristufek was represented in his case by Michael Miller of the Miller Firm, which has offices in Orange, Va., and McComb, Miss. The Kristufek case is in the Court of Common Pleas of the State of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia. If you have any questions about any aspect of the Actos litigation, contact Roger Smith, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Roger.Smith@beasleyallen.com.
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