A jury decision last month once again shines a light directly on Takeda Pharmaceutical Company’s controversial diabetes drug, Actos. The jury awarded a retired Pennsylvania teacher with bladder cancer $1.3 million in punitive damages on top of $2.3 million in actual damages, saying Takeda acted with reckless indifference to his health.

The jury said Takeda did not provide adequate warnings about reports that Actos has reportedly been linked to the malignant cancer in diabetes patients, including one that indicated the drug may double the risk of contracting the disease. In addition, Actos sales were suspended in France and Germany following a separate study which revealed a possible link to cancer. Read More >>

According to Law360, the jury heard evidence Takeda had urged a partner involved in developing Actos “to say that it had backed away from the project due to concerns over the drug’s efficacy and not because of data showing potential health risks.” Other evidence indicated Takeda sales reps were told not to talk to doctors about the risk “unless specifically asked,” the legal publication reported.

Since 2007, Actos has been the most commonly prescribed drug in the world for treating type 2 diabetes – with sales peaking in 2011 at $4.5 billion. Actos linked to bladder cancer.

That same year, several studies prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue what is called a “Drug Safety Communication, indicating increased rise of bladder cancer in some patients using the drug. The warning urges patients experiencing blood in their urine, lower back and abdominal pain, an urgent need to urinate and pain during urination to contact their physician immediately. Read More >>

Not surprisingly, the Pennylvania case is not the first involving Actos and certainly won’t be the last. Law360 noted the Philadelphia Count Court case is the fifth of eight where juries have ruled for the plaintiffs.

While Takeda and the Eli Lilly Co succeeded in reducing a Louisiana federal court verdict of $9 billion in punitive damages in a similar case alleging they hid the drug’s health risks, the companies still were ordered to pay a total of $36.8 million last Fall. Read More >>

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