Japan drugmaker Takeda to fight $6 billion damages awarded by U.S. jury

Tue Apr 8, 2014 1:36pm EDT
 
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By Daniel Levine and Edmund Klamann

SAN FRANCISCO/TOKYO (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd said it would contest $6 billion in punitive damages imposed by a jury in the United States in a case that accused Japan's largest drugmaker of concealing cancer risks associated with its Actos diabetes drug.

Eli Lilly and Co, Takeda's co-defendant in the case, was ordered to pay $3 billion in punitive damages by the jury in Louisiana on Monday. It also awarded $1.475 million in compensatory damages.

Legal experts said it was unlikely that such a large award would stand after challenges in court by both companies. Eli Lilly and Takeda have said they would dispute the verdict, which could include appeals to a higher court or filing motions asking the trial judge to set aside or reduce the verdict.

"Although there's no mathematical bright line" to determine how high is too high when it comes to punitive damage awards, federal appeals courts generally scrutinize the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages, preferring those that fall into the single-digit range, according to Professor Catherine Sharkey, a tort law expert at New York University School of Law.

Punitive damages are meant to discourage companies from bad conduct. Compensatory damages are meant to pay victims for their actual losses. With a ratio of more than 6,100 to 1 of punitive to compensatory damages, the Actos award could be highly vulnerable.

"It's definitely the case that the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled to lower courts that they should be restraining very large punitive awards," Sharkey added.

Lilly, which co-promoted Actos from 1999 to 2006, said in a press release it will be indemnified by Takeda for its losses and expenses around the litigation based on the terms of its agreement with Takeda.

Takeda's shares fell as much as 8.8 percent to an eight-month low in Tokyo trading on Tuesday after the verdict. The stock ended 5.2 percent lower at 4,572 yen.   Continued...

 
Logos of Japanese Takeda Pharmaceutical Co are seen at an office building in Glattbrugg near Zurich, in this March 7, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files