Takeda gets enough takers to complete $2.3B Actos settlement

A month ago it appeared like Takeda might not get enough takers to move forward with its sweeping $2.3 billion offer to settle thousands of claims over the cancer risks of diabetes drug Actos. But over the weekend, the Japanese drugmaker said it had raised the offer by $100 million if certain conditions are hit and now has enough on board to trigger the $2.3 billion settlement.

The company said it has 96% of the claimants signed up, and in the process has settled 7 of the 9 cases that have already gone to trial as well as many of the estimated 8,000 cases pending in state and federal courts. If 97% of the claims match up with the settlement criteria, Takeda said has agreed to cough up $2.4 billion.

The drugmaker said in a statement, that it continues to stand behind its product but that the payout allows it to focus on its future, while reducing "the uncertainties of complex litigation."

And Takeda, and Actos marketing partner Eli Lilly ($LLY), have faced some serious complications, like a verdict from a Louisiana jury ordering them to pay $9 billion. Lawyers on both sides expected the judge to rule the payout excessive, but it was amount that gave the industry pause. The judge in the case did slash the award by 99% to $36.8 million, but 6 months later the drugmaker rolled out its $2.3 billion offer.

Takeda says it still has two cases outstanding, one in California it has appealed after a court there reinstated a $6.5 million verdict, and another where the plaintiffs are appealing after Takeda came out on top.

The settlement offer, which was made in April as new CEO Christophe Weber took over as the first non-Japanese leader of the company, looked last month like it might not happen. When the drugmaker hit its first deadline for signing up in August, only 75% of the claimants were on board, well short of the 95% it said it required to move forward with the deal. But Takeda's lawyers at the time said they were confident that with a few more weeks, others would sign up.

Clearing the legal overhang will be helpful to Weber, who has his hands full trying to turn around Japan's largest drugmaker. In his debut earnings report in May, the company reported a small loss for the year, but he promised the a corner had been turned and that the company would be profitable this year. But in the ever-changing world of pharma, the drugmaker was surprised last month when a judge struck down the patent on its multiple myeloma blockbuster Velcade. The company had expected that drug to continue to pay many of the bills until its patent expired in 2022 and Takeda could get its follow-up drug for the condition established in the market. The drug candidate is awaiting approvals in the U.S. and Europe.

- here's the release