Big Pharma paid out big settlements and got hit with some big jury verdicts in 2015. The year’s hardest hit companies include Johnson & Johnson, Takeda, Wright Medical and Boston Scientific. Lawsuits against the companies alleged the drug and device makers made false marketing claims, sold faulty products and failed to warn consumers about dangerous side effects, some fatal.
A number of highly prescribed drugs and popular medical devices were at the heart of the litigation, including Type 2 diabetes medication, antipsychotic drugs and a number of medical devices like hip implants. Here are highlights of some of 2015’s big settlements, verdicts and controversies surrounding dangerous drugs and medical devices.
Multi-Billion Dollar Actos Settlement
In October 2015, Takeda Pharmaceuticals agreed to settle thousands of Actos bladder cancer lawsuits for $2.4 billion, and it is one of the largest settlements in drug and device history. In 2014, Takeda was hit with a massive $9 billion jury verdict in favor of one plaintiff who was diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Actos.
Several studies, including Takeda’s own five-year study, linked the medication to a 41 percent increased risk of bladder cancer. Spurred by this data, plaintiffs who say they were diagnosed with bladder cancer after taking Actos filed lawsuits accusing Takeda of hiding the risk.
Over the span of several years, the Japanese drug company fought against allegations that its blockbuster Type 2 diabetes drug caused bladder cancer. It insists the settlement is not an admission of guilt.
Millions Paid in Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits
Transvaginal mesh remains one of the most controversial medical devices on the market and one of the largest mass torts in American history. Mesh ignited a social media firestorm with women who suffered complications from the device taking to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about the dangerous device. One victim called it genocide on women.
More than 70,000 lawsuits against seven companies are currently pending in federal multidistrict litigation before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in West Virginia. Thousands more are pending in state courts. The two mesh manufacturers at the top of the list with the most lawsuits are Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division with more than 29,000 cases and Boston Scientific with close to 19,000.
Some of 2015’s mesh settlement and jury verdict highlights include:
- C.R. Bard agreed to pay $200 million to settle some of its cases. The company already faced a number of multi-million-dollar jury verdicts.
- A state jury in Delaware hit Boston Scientific with a massive $100 million verdict, ruling on behalf of one plaintiff who suffered constant pain and inability to have sex. According to Bloomberg, it is the 8th largest jury verdict in 2015.
- Coloplast announced it would add $448 million more to the settlement budget to close out more of its cases.
Johnson & Johnson quietly settled a handful of cases with undisclosed amounts but has yet to commit to a blanket settlement to resolve tens of thousands of federal and state cases against it.