A jury ordered Takeda Pharmaceutical to pay more than $2 million to a Pennsylvania woman who blamed the Type 2 diabetes drug Actos for causing her bladder cancer.
Eight of the nine jurors in Philadelphia state court sided with plaintiff Frances Wisniewski and awarded her $2,050,000. The jury reached its decision after five hours of deliberations, finding that Takeda failed to warn Wisniewski and her doctors about the risk carried by Actos of causing bladder cancer. Jurors also agreed that the Japan-based company did not include enough information on medication labels.
"I think the jury was very fair," Michael Miller, Wisniewski's attorney told Law360. "The defendants clearly failed to warn and it clearly caused her damage. She’s got a life of bladder cancer because of it. It’s a fair verdict."
The verdict follows a $9 billion courtroom loss the pharmaceutical company took earlier this year for another Actos bladder cancer case, the largest verdict to date related to Actos. That verdict is under appeal.
Actos, released in 1999, made billions for Takeda and at the height of its sales in 2011 reaped an incredible $4.5 billion in a single year. The Type 2 diabetes drug made up over a quarter of the company's profits despite concerns of heart failure, liver and kidney disease.
Takeda stands by its billion dollar drug, saying it did not cause Wisniewski's bladder cancer. The company plans to challenge the verdict.
"We have empathy for Ms. Wisniewski but we believe we presented sufficient evidence to show that her condition was not caused by Actos," Takeda Pharmaceutical USA Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kenneth Greisman said in a statement to The Pharma Letter.
'Takeda Chose to Protect Profits Rather than Patients'
At trial, Miller brought up the fact that Takeda destroyed files pertaining to the marketing and sales of Actos, Bloomberg reported. Some of those files were from top executives in Japan and the U.S. sales reps.
In closing arguments, attorney Miller said, "Takeda chose to protect profits rather than patients" and only wanted to "protect the product," Reuters reported.
Wisniewski, a 79-year-old retired accountant, is not the first to seek justice in court for bladder cancer she says was caused by Actos. She is the seventh to go to trial. Thousands of others also think Takeda is putting money ahead of patient safety, and there are about 8,000 plaintiffs still in line to take a stab at the pharma giant for negligence.
More than 3,500 federal lawsuits are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Louisiana. According to court documents, these cases await pretrial discovery. Around the corner are 4,500 more cases pending in states courts across the country, Bloomberg reported.
The company took a massive hit in April to the tune of $9 billion in a Louisiana case and is requesting a new trial in that case after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty refused to overturn the verdict.
Takeda to Appeal
In addition to appealing this most recent verdict, Takeda plans to continue to defend itself in court and does not appear to have plans to settle any claims.
"Patient safety is a critical priority for Takeda," Greisman said. "We believe that we have acted responsibly with regard to Actos and plan to vigorously defend the company against future law suits."
Takeda attorney Craig Thompson said Wisniewski had several other risk factors that could have caused her bladder cancer, including smoking.
In the meantime, attorneys are still taking cases from people diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Actos, and Takeda may be on the hook for more jury verdicts.