ACTOS Updates

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(1)      Takeda Avoids Another Big Loss In Ill. Actos Cancer Trial

A jury on Thursday cleared Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. of liability in the first trial among thousands of Illinois lawsuits blaming the diabetes drug Actos for causing bladder cancer, following a multibillion-dollar verdict against the drugmaker last month in Louisiana.

The 12-member jury — seven men and five women — returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Japanese drug maker after less than two hours of deliberations in Chicago, ending plaintiff Diane Whitlatch’s suit alleging Actos was behind the bladder cancer that killed her husband and that Takeda failed to provide ample warning of the drug’s risks.

The four-week bellwether trial ended in a much-needed victory for Takeda, which was hammered with $6 billion in punitive damages last month by a Louisiana federal jury in another Actos case. Eli Lilly & Co., which was also a defendant in the Louisiana case, was hit with $3 billion in punitive damages.

The case was the first of at least 3,000 such lawsuits in Illinois to go to trial, and the fifth to reach trial nationwide. The Louisiana federal case was the only one of the five that Takeda lost, and the company has vowed to appeal that verdict.

During his closing argument on Thursday, Steven Maher of The Maher Law Firm PA, who represents the plaintiff, asked the jury to award $11.3 million in total damages to Whitlatch. He said Takeda ignored multiple studies linking bladder cancer to Actos, which raked in more than $16 billion in sales since its release in 1999 and was the company’s only drug in the U.S. market.

The member case is Whitlatch v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc. et al., case number 12-L-6087; and the consolidated case is In re: Actos Litigation, case number 11-L-010011, both in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

(2)      Takeda Defense Attorneys Hit With Sanctions In Actos Case

Nevada judge Kerry Earley ruled Wednesday that she will issue sanctions against attorneys representing Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., including partners from Norton Rose Fulbright and Snell & Wilmer LLP, in an ongoing trial over the alleged bladder cancer risks of Takeda’s diabetes drug Actos.

Earley said that she would instruct a jury before closing arguments that the attorneys, including Norton Rose partner D’Lesli M. Davis and Snell & Wilmer partner Kelly Evans, engaged in misconduct and repeatedly violated the court’s pretrial orders, Charlotte Evans, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs’ attorneys, confirmed Thursday.

Takeda’s defense counsel repeatedly attempted to broach topics that Judge Earley had set off limits before the trial, Evans said, saying that the plaintiffs had to repeatedly raise objections during the trial, which has been ongoing since early March. Judge Earley will tell the jury that those objections were because of the defense counsels’ misconduct and that they should not view the plaintiffs negatively, Evans said.

Judge Earley will also be issuing a jury instruction on Takeda’s evidence spoliation before closing arguments, Rodriguez confirmed Thursday. It will be an adverse instruction that Takeda destroyed evidence and that the jury may draw a negative conclusion based on that, according to a source familiar with the matter. Closing arguments are expected to take place as early as next Friday.

The suit, brought by Bertha Triana and Delores Cipriano, both in their early 80s, claims that Takeda failed to warn patients and doctors of the bladder cancer risks of Actos despite knowing about them. The plaintiffs are planning to seek a multibillion-dollar verdict in the trial, Evans said.

The cases are Cipriano v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., case number A680922, and Triana v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., case number A680556, in the Clark County Court in Nevada.