Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd and Eli Lilly & Co lost a $9 billion punitive damage award by a US jury for hiding cancer risks associated with their Actos diabetes drug, Reuters reported.
''Plaintiffs have pointed to sufficient evidence from which the jury could have concluded that the 'information' about bladder cancer contained in Actos labels did not adequately warn of the increased risk of cancer,'' US district judge Rebecca Doherty of the Western District of Louisiana said Wednesday.
The development comes as a setback for Takeda, though it leaves open the possibility of a retrial or reduced verdict, for which Japan's top drugmaker made a separate appeal in April.
A spokeswoman terming the latest ruling as ''unfortunate'', said that Takeda continued to hope for an outcome in its favour on a separate appeal. The company reiterated its intention to continue the fight in court rather than settle.
Legal experts had said it was not likely that such a large award would stand after it was challenged in court by both companies.
Lilly had earlier said it would be indemnified by Takeda for its losses and expenses from the litigation based on the terms of its agreement with Takeda.
However, in a positive development for the company the results of a 10-year post-market analysis of the DPP-4 inhibitor by the company showed no link between the onset of bladder cancer and taking Actos.
According to the company, it expected to submit final results for publication in 2014.
According to commentators, the verdict, which was likely to be reduced on appeal, is the second-largest in the US in 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
''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,'' Doherty said in her 101-page decision.
Both Takeda and Lilly disagreed with the ruling.
''We disagree with the ruling and await a ruling on our motion for a new trial,'' Kenneth Greisman, a spokesman for Osaka, Japan-based Takeda, said in an e-mailed statement. ''We continue to believe that binding legal precedent requires the judge to disregard the verdict in its entirety and grant a new trial.''
''Lilly respectfully disagrees with the verdict and we intend to vigorously pursue all post-verdict options, including an appeal,'' Candace Johnson, a Lilly spokeswoman, said in a e- mailed statement.