Takeda keeps Actos settlement ball rolling with new resolutions

Takeda is settling up with two more plaintiffs over allegedly hiding cancer risks linked to its diabetes drug Actos just weeks after it rolled up thousands of other outstanding cases as part of a multibillion-dollar settlement program that will resolve most of its pending litigation for similar claims over the med.

The Japanese drugmaker has reached a tentative settlement in a civil case with two Nevada plaintiffs who claimed that Actos caused them bladder cancer. That agreement ends a jury trial after more than a month of arguments and testimony, Law360 reports. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who said they planned to seek a $2 billion verdict against Takeda, did not reveal details about the size of the recent settlement, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In September, Takeda said that 96% of Actos claimants signed up for its $2.3 billion settlement offer, resolving a sizable chunk of the estimated 8,000 cases pending in state and federal courts, as well as 7 out of 9 cases that have already gone to trial and were on appeal. Takeda also agreed to pitch in an additional $100 million if 97% of claims matched up with settlement criteria, encouraging more plaintiffs to hop on the bandwagon.

Takeda said last month that the payout would allow it to focus on the future and avoid some of "the uncertainties of complex litigation" over Actos. The company and marketing partner Eli Lilly ($LLY) have faced their fair share of legal complications with the med, including a $9 billion verdict from a Louisiana jury last year. The judge in the case ended up reducing the award by 99% to $36.8 million, but the initial amount was enough to give Takeda pause. It was after that verdict that it rolled out its $2 billion settlement program.

For a while, it looked like the settlement wouldn't happen. Only 75% of claimants had signed up for the program by the first deadline in August, far short of the 95% that Takeda had said was needed to move forward with the deal. Takeda's lawyers at the time said they were confident that more plaintiffs would eventually join.

Takeda CEO Christophe Weber

Tying up legal matters will also help Takeda at a critical moment, as new CEO Christophe Weber attempts to clean up shop and swing the company to a turnaround. In Weber's first earnings report after joining the company, the helmsman promised that Takeda had turned a corner and would post a profit this year.

But last month a judge struck down the company's patent on its multiple myeloma blockbuster Velcade, a med Takeda was counting on for growth until 2022 when the patent was set to expire. Still, the drugmaker has a follow-up med for the condition that is pending approval in the U.S. and Europe, potentially giving Takeda some breathing room after the patent snafu.

- read the Law360 story (reg. req.)
- here's the Las Vegas Review-Journal article

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