Bloomberg is reporting that Takeda Pharmaceutical was ordered by a jury to pay $155,000 over its destruction of documents about its Actos diabetes medicine after the panel concluded the missing files blocked a man from proving his claims that the drug caused his cancer.
Jurors in state court in Martinsburg, West Virginia, deliberated about three hours today before concluding Takeda officials intentionally destroyed files about the development and marketing of Actos, Michael Miller, the plaintiff’s lawyer, said in an interview. The panel awarded compensatory damages to retired bakery worker Richard Myers, Miller said.
The panel found the systematic document destruction blocked Myers from having access to evidence that could have proved his claims that Takeda failed to adequately warn about the diabetes drug’s cancer risks, Miller said.
The West Virginia verdict comes more than a month after a state court jury in Pennsylvania ordered Takeda to pay $2 million to a former Actos user over her bladder cancer and two weeks after a federal judge in Louisiana upheld a punitive-damage award against the drugmaker over the medicine.
“The verdict is the death knell for Takeda because it establishes once and for all that they intentionally destroyed evidence to bar bladder-cancer victims from proving the drug harmed them,” Miller said.
Myers, 71, is the eighth Actos patient to take his suit to trial and the fifth to win, based on data compiled by Bloomberg News.
“We are considering our options, including an appeal” of the finding that the company willfully and intentionally destroyed the Actos files, Kenneth Greisman, a U.S.-based spokesman for Takeda, said in an e-mailed statement.
More than 3,500 Actos suits have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, Louisiana, for pretrial information exchanges, according to court dockets. The company faces another 4,500 cases in state courts in Illinois, West Virginia, California and Pennsylvania, according to court records.
Sales of Actos peaked in March 2011 at $4.5 billion for Takeda and accounted for 27 percent of the company’s revenue at the time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Actos has generated more than $16 billion in sales since its 1999 release, according to court filings. Takeda now faces generic competition from Ranbaxy Laboratories.
Former Actos users contend in court filings Takeda researchers ignored or downplayed concerns about the drug’s cancer-causing potential before it went on sale in the U.S. and misled U.S. regulators and doctors about the medicine’s risks.
The West Virginia case is Myers v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., Circuit Court of Berkeley County, West Virginia, No. 12-C-315 (Martinsburg). The consolidated Actos case is In Re Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation, 11-md-02299, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette).