Recently, the drug's manufacturer - and former Indianapolis-based partner Eli Lilly and Company - were ordered to pay a combined $9 billion in punitive damages after a federal jury found the company allegedly withheld critical safety information from consumers.
At Brewer & Pritchard, our whistleblower attorneys understand that companies that ignore risks and concerns associated with their products must be held responsible for their actions. A verdict can send a strong message, but we also believe an individual can make a difference long before a case goes to trial. Furthermore, no employee should fear coming forward against a company that willfully puts consumers at risk.
Drug manufacturer ordered to pay $9 billion in punitive damages
Actos was introduced to the market in 1999 to treat type 2 diabetes. The drug was marketed in the United States between 1999 and 2006 by Eli Lilly and Co. and proved to be wildly popular among consumers, reaching sales that peaked at $4.5 billion in 2011.
According to Bloomberg, the popular diabetes drug was linked to increased bladder cancer risk among users. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required Actos' label to contain a warning about potentially increased bladder cancer risk. The FDA indicated that people who took Actos for longer than one year had a 40 percent increased risk of bladder cancer.
It's not uncommon for pharmaceutical companies to release products to the market with potentially dangerous side effects. According to a lawsuit filed by former Actos user Terrence Allen, Takeda was not only aware Actos' cancer risks seven years prior to their 2011 safety warning, but allegedly top-level company officials intentionally destroyed documents about the development, marketing and sales of Actos.
In response to these allegations, a federal jury in Louisiana awarded Allen - who developed bladder cancer after taking Actos since 2006 - $1.5 million in compensatory damages. In addition, Eli Lilly was ordered to pay $3 billion in punitive damages and Takeda was ordered by the jury in Lafayette to pay a staggering $6 billion - one of the largest such verdicts of its kind.
Furthermore, jurors also found that Takeda and Eli Lilly executives allegedly acted "with wanton and reckless disregard" for patient safety in their handling of Actos, including the destruction of files of 46 current and former employees with access to sensitive information.
Verdict sends strong message to pharmaceutical industry
Punitive damages are meant to discourage and prevent other companies from engaging in negligent conduct in the future. Oftentimes punitive damages are only awarded in special cases where compensatory damages are deemed inadequate, such as when one party acts with gross negligence or malicious intent.
The Chicago Tribune reports that both Takeda and Eli Lilly intend on contesting the punitive damages awarded by the U.S. federal jury. There are currently more than 2,700 Actos suits consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Louisiana for pretrial information exchanges, indicating that legal issues for the pharmaceutical companies may have just begun.
Negligent and fraudulent behavior by large corporations should not be tolerated. While a large jury award can act as a deterrent for companies, we believe that a single employee also can make a significant difference. Whistleblowers who step forward and point out wrongdoing can save lives.
Contact a whistleblower attorney if you believe you have evidence of fraud or wrongdoing. Call Brewer & Pritchard P.C. today at 800-445-8710 or visit www.bplaw.com to schedule a consultation.