Takeda Actos settlement seems shaky as plaintiffs give it the sniff test

Takeda's new CEO, Christophe Weber, thought the Japanese drugmaker had freed itself of the drag from thousands of lawsuits tied to cancer risks from its diabetes drug Actos with a $2.37 billion settlement offer made in April. But despite an average promised payout of $250,000, many plaintiffs have not signed on, perhaps because the rewards of suing seem so much more enticing.

Takeda CEO Christophe Weber

As the initial deadline passed on Wednesday, only about 75% of those claiming harm from the diabetes drug had agreed to the offer, The Japan Times reports. Takeda has said it will consummate the deal when it has 95% on board, and has extended the deadline for a month. Attorneys for Takeda say they are confident claimants will join. But some sources tell the publication that given the size of awards from the suits that have gone to trial, some plaintiffs are holding out in hopes of getting more.

"There just may be too much uncertainty about the wisdom of joining this settlement at this point," Carl Tobias, a professor in product liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told the publication. "Given the size of the jury awards that have been handed down against Takeda over Actos, folks may be more willing to take their chances of hitting it big in court."

Those sizes have been astounding in some cases, like the Louisiana jury that awarded $9 billion against Takeda and marketing partner Eli Lilly ($LLY). In that case, a patient claimed to have developed bladder cancer after using Actos for 5 years for his diabetes. A judge later slashed the award by 99% to $36.8 million, not an unsubstantial sum, but the ruling did not bode well for what may be in wait in courtrooms to come.

And those cases keep rolling on. The Japan Times points out that jury selection began Wednesday, the original deadline for the settlement offer, in a state case in Las Vegas. Takeda has a losing record in court so far, having lost 5 of the 9 cases that have gone to trial.

Still, Takeda's lawyers, outwardly, appear unruffled by the fact that sign-ons fell short this month. One of those, Kenneth Greisman, told the newspaper: "The rate of participation in the resolution program at this point in the opt-in process is in line with other similar, successful resolution programs."

- read the Japan Times story