Takeda Pharmaceuticals Inc. was hit with a $2.3 million verdict on Thursday after a Philadelphia jury concluded that the diabetes drug Actos had been a significant cause of a retired Pennsylvania teacher’s bladder cancer and that the man’s doctor had been inadequately warned about the risks.
The jury returned a verdict after a little more than a day of deliberation, awarding John Kristufek $318,000 in past medical expenses plus $2 million in noneconomic damages in the second successful bid by plaintiffs in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to hold the Japanese drugmaker liable for injuries related to Actos.
The jury also opened the door for punitive damages against the company by finding that Takeda had acted with reckless disregard for patients in its development and marketing of the drug. John Kristufek, a resident of Butler County in western Pennsylvania, filed suit in July 2012 alleging that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2008 after using the drug for about three years.
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The verdict comes after nearly a month of testimony in the case. Kristufek alleged that Takeda’s efforts to obscure the drug’s association with bladder cancer had left his prescribing physician unaware of the risks until shortly after he was forced to have his bladder removed entirely in July 2011.
According to testimony in the case, the drug’s label was updated in the weeks after Kristufek’s bladder removal to indicate that use of pioglitazone-based medications, such as Actos, for more than a year was associated with an increased cancer risk. The warning remains on the drug’s label today, according to testimony in the case.
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The damages awarded to Kristufek come on the heels of a $2 million verdict awarded to a Philadelphia-area woman who similarly claimed that Actos had caused her to develop bladder cancer. A Philadelphia County judge recently denied a set of post-trial motions filed by Takeda asking that the verdict be stricken, clearing the way for the company to pursue an appeal to the state’s Superior Court.
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Takeda has faced a number of jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs over Actos-related claims. Some of those verdicts, however, were upended after trial. In California, Takeda bested a $6.5 million verdict after a judge found that expert testimony on causation had to be disqualified. In Maryland, a jury awarded $1.8 million, only to have the damages negated due to contributory negligence on the part of the plaintiff.
The biggest blow to the company has been a $6 billion verdict awarded to plaintiffs in April 2014 as part ofmultidistrict litigation in Louisiana. In that case, plaintiffs alleged that Takeda and its U.S.-based marketing partner Eli Lilly & Co. concealed the risks of bladder cancer carried by the drug from physicians and consumers.
While a federal judge shrank the punitive damages to $36.8 million in October, the company has announced plans to appeal the award. The case was presented for Kristufek by Michael Miller of the Miller Firm LLC.
The case was presented for Takeda by Sheila Boston of Kaye Scholer LLP and Orlando Richmond of Butler Snow LLP. The case is John Kristufek v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., case number 120702275, in the Court of Common Pleas of the State of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia.
–Additional reporting by Kat Greene and Sindhu Sundar. Editing by Mark Lebetkin.