Even after Takeda Pharmaceuticals offered to pay $2.37 billion to settle all Actos cases, the drug maker faces a high-profile trial that began last week in Nevada, involving two users of the popular diabetes drug who maintain that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of bladder cancer from Actos side effects.
Trial began last Thursday involving two claims that will be presented jointly to a state court jury in Las Vegas, including one wrongful death lawsuit. Both lawsuits were brought on behalf of men who allegedly developed bladder cancer following use of Actos.
There are currently more than 8,000 similar Actos lawsuits pending throughout the U.S., which all involve nearly identical allegations that the drug maker withheld information about the risk that users may face. About half of those cases are pending in the federal court system, with the other half pending in various state courts, including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Earlier this year, Takeda agreed to pay nearly $2.4 billion as part of an Actos settlement program, which would provide an average payment of $296,000 per case for individuals diagnosed with bladder cancer, although the awards may be reduced based on the user’s age, exposure to other cancer-causing toxins and smoking history.
The deal requires that 95% of all plaintiffs involved in the Actos bladder cancer litigation agree to participate. However, by the initial deadline earlier this month, reports suggest that only 75% of plaintiffs had opted in. Therefore, the drug maker agreed to extend the deadline to September 11, in hopes of salvaging the deal.
This latest trial involves claims brought by George Decou and the family of Maurice J. Iorio, who died of bladder cancer-related problems in November 2013. Opening statements began on August 27, before a jury in Judge Jerry Wiese’s courtroom at the Las Vegas District Court.
According to a press release issued by the attorney representing Decou and Iorio, the two claimants seek $2 billion in damages at trial, indicating that Takeda concealed what they knew about the Actos risks and “destroyed evidence on a massive scale in an attempt to avoid responsibility.”
In April 2014, a federal jury awarded $9 billion in damages during an Actos trial, which was later reduced to $37 million by the U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal litigation. However, the judge indicated in the order that the Supreme Court needs to update rules on what is considered excessive in order to effectively deter large corporations from engaging in the type of bad behavior exhibited by Takeda surrounding Actos.