Takeda and Lilly remain on the hook for $9B Actos award

Legal experts have insisted there is no way that a $9 billion punitive damage award against Takeda Pharmaceutical and Eli Lilly ($LLY) for hiding Actos risks can stand. It is just too big compared to the $1.5 million in actual damages a jury said were due. But the two companies are still sweating that one out after a federal judge refused to throw out the verdict and its mammoth award on Thursday.

"The jury acted within its role and discretion to attach whatever weight and make whatever reasonable inference it deemed appropriate when assessing the defendants' conduct," U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, LA, ruled in her 101-page decision, Bloomberg reports.

The companies have filed a separate request for a new trial, and legal watchers still think the astronomical award will be cut significantly on appeal, Bloomberg said.

Both companies said they disagreed with the verdict and expected to win an appeal. And Takeda has now won 5 of the 6 lawsuits that have gone to trial over allegations that it hid risks of the Type 2 diabetes pill, but that one loss is a dicey precedent to have out there, given there are another 2,900 lawsuits pending, Reuters reports.

Even the lawyers for the plaintiff--a former hardware-store manager from Attica, NY, who developed bladder cancer after taking Actos--expressed doubt when the amount was presented. After all, the Supreme Court has said punitive damages should be proportional to actual, compensatory damages--possibly 10 times the amount of compensation, which would be $15 million, the amount that the plaintiff's attorneys were seeking. Instead the jury deliberated only an hour before returning with an award that was $8.985 billion more than that.

Takeda was held responsible for $6 billion and partner Lilly is supposed to cough up $3 billion. Lilly has said that under the terms of its marketing deal with the Japanese drugmaker, it will be indemnified by Takeda for its losses and legal expenses, Reuters reports.

Takeda also reported on Thursday that a 10-year postmarketing study of Actos found no significant risk of bladder cancer in Actos patients or link between the duration of the drug's use and the disease.

- here's the Bloomberg story
- get more from Reuters

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