Thousands of Actos Lawsuits Reach Settlement Amount of $2.4 Billion
After years of Actos lawsuits over the side effects of the Type 2 diabetes drug, Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda recently offered a settlement the matter by distributing a total of $2.2 billion to thousands of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits consolidated into one multidistrict litigation (MDL).
As of April 28th, 2015, Takeda has agreed to pay just slightly more – $2.4 billion – to settle all 9,000 of the Actos lawsuits which allege that the drug caused bladder cancer to develop after 2 years or more of use. Of those, 3,500 have been consolidated into an MDL, while 4,500 additional cases are pending in state courts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California.
Not every Actos lawsuit for personal injury and wrongful death ended up in the MDL, and Takeda said that it would set aside $2.7 billion to cover not only the settlement, but any remaining lawsuits. This settlement amount comes to almost $300,000 per plaintiff – much less than the amount awarded in some of the bellwether trials, including the trial of Terrence Allen, who was initially awarded $9 billion for pain and suffering; Allen’s award was later reduced later to $36.8 million.
Still, even the reduced amount is more than each of the remaining plaintiffs in the Actos MDL stand to will receive. In addition, Takeda does not have to admit liability for Actos faults as part of the settlement.
“It’s a good deal for Takeda,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s business and law schools who teaches classes about how drugs are developed and regulated. “Takeda’s mishandling of this drug is worthy of large punitive damage awards … Given the apparent strength of the cases, the plaintiffs probably deserved more compensation than this deal offers.”
While Takeda is pleased with the settlement agreement, the plaintiffs still must approve the amount. If 95% of the 9,000 Actos injury plaintiffs agree, then the settlement will move forward. The amount given to individual plaintiffs will depend on their health history, including other risk factors for developing bladder cancer such as smoking and age.
“Takeda wants to put as many of the cases to bed as it can, and doesn’t want to wake them back up because a few plaintiffs hold out,” Gordon added.
The restrictions on how much plaintiffs can receive is likely to prompt opposition from those who, like plaintiff John Kristufek, was awarded $2.3 million for his Actos injuries despite a long history of smoking that could have contributed to his cancer.
“To me it appears that the higher the dose, the more likely it is that Actos causes bladder cancer,” said University of Colorado oncologist, Shandra Wilson, who testified during Kristufek’s trial.
Although the Actos Lawsuit settlement amount would be a good deal for Takeda, it is still among the largest settlement agreements with a drug manufacturer in US history.