On behalf of Smiley & Smiley, LLP posted in Defective Products on Monday, April 28, 2014.
A district court jury recently sent a clear message to drug manufacturers everywhere: Do not withhold critical safety information from the public. The jurors in an important case against Japanese drug manufacturer Takeda and its U.S. partner Eli Lilly have ordered that those companies must pay $9 billion total in punitive damages linked to a scandal involving the drug Actos.
Actos is a drug that was originally approved and marketed to help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. However, the drug was later linked to a significantly elevated risk of developing cancer. According to the lawsuit against Takeda and Eli Lilly, Takeda officials were first made aware of the link between Actos and an elevated risk of developing bladder cancer particularly in the early 2000s. However, the company withheld this information for years.
When it ordered Takeda to pay $6 billion and Eli Lilly to pay $3 billion, the jury handed down one of the largest damages awards in American history, according to The New York Times. Both companies plan to appeal the verdict. Eli Lilly is technically indemnified against such liability under its contract with Takeda, although it is unclear whether this contractual provision will be upheld on appeal.
Whether or not this massive damages award is ultimately upheld, the jurors in this case have made a clear statement about how the American public views drug manufacturers that choose to withhold critical safety information from patients and physicians. Hopefully this case will serve as a warning to other companies that may be contemplating withholding important information in order to protect their reputations and profit.
Source: New York Times, “Jury Awards $9 Billion in Damages in Drug Case,” Martin Fackler and Andrew Pollack, April 8, 2014
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