Gavel and money

$9 Billion Punitive Damages Award in Drug Defect Case Stands

Texas residents rely upon their doctors to know what medications are good for them. For their part, doctors largely rely upon pharmaceutical companies to conduct the testing necessary to know that their drugs are safe before they put them on the market. When unsafe medications make it to market, patients can be seriously injured. This can lead to highly contested pharmaceutical liability lawsuits.

In one such case, a court recently held that a $9 billion punitive damages award against Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly will stand. The verdict, reportedly the second largest of the year, was handed down in response to allegations that the pharmaceuticals in question, a diabetes drug known as Actos, carried an unreasonable risk of causing bladder cancer, and that the drug companies concealed the risk.

The case was brought on behalf of a patient who took Actos for several years and claimed that it caused his cancer. A jury awarded him $1.5 million in compensatory damages, to cover medical bills and other expenses. However, the jury also found that the drug companies had concealed the risks of the drug and found this behavior so outrageous that they awarded the injured patient $9 billion in punitive damages.

The drug companies challenged the award, but a court ruled that it can stand, for now. Generally, punitive damages can be no greater than 10 times the compensatory damages award. The damages amount may be reduced on appeal, or if the case is retried.

Lilly participated in promoting the drug from 1999 to 2006. Takeda recently released a study that seems to support its claims that Actos does not increase the risk of bladder cancer.

Pharmaceutical liability lawsuits can protect victims of harmful or defective drugs when a pharmaceutical injury or other harm has occurred. Because of this, it may be important for victims to understand the legal options and resources available to them.

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