Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. had a $9-billion punitive damage award over claims that the drug makers hid the cancer risks of their Actos diabetes medicine sharply reduced.
A federal court judge cut the original award to $36.8 million.
Jurors properly found officials of Osaka, Japan, company Takeda and Indianapolis company Lilly intentionally hid the health risks of the diabetes medicine and should face punitive damages, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, La., ruled Monday. Still, the panel’s decision to order Takeda to pay $6 billion and Lilly $3 billion in punitive damages was excessive and should be reduced to $36.8 million, she said.
The reduction brings the award “to the maximum amount a jury could have properly awarded” under current U.S. law, Doherty said. The judge denied Takeda’s and Lilly’s request for a new trial.
The ruling is good news for Takeda and Lilly. Takeda faces more than 8,000 U.S. suits accusing it of mishandling Actos.
“We view the substantially reduced punitive damage award as a step in the right direction, but we believe a damage award of any amount is not justified based on the evidence presented in this trial and we will appeal,” Kenneth D. Greisman, a U.S.-based spokesman for Takeda, said in a statement.
“While we have empathy for the plaintiff, we believe the evidence did not support his claims,” said Mike Harrington, Lilly senior vice president and general counsel. “We will continue working vigorously to overturn the verdict”
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 Ltd.
Lilly was Takeda’s U.S. partner in selling and marketing the drug over seven years starting in 1999.