Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Japanese pharmaceutical company to fight US ruling

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s biggest drugs maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical, said yesterday it would fight a huge US$6 billion damages order following a US trial over the safety of its Actos diabetes medicine.

The company said it “respectfully disagrees” with the judgement awarded by a jury in the southern state of Louisiana on Monday, which also ordered the firm’s codefendant, US drugs firm Eli Lilly, to pay US$3 billion in damages.

Investors dumped the Japanese firm’s Tokyo-listed shares, which fell 5.16 percent to ¥4,572 yesterday.

The issue at the trial, which began in February, was whether the drug could be blamed for bladder cancer in a plaintiff who was taking the medicine, and whether the firm knew about those risks, with other US cases still pending.

DISAGREEMENT

“Takeda respectfully disagrees with the verdict and we intend to vigorously challenge this outcome through all available legal means, including possible post-trial motions and an appeal,” said Kenneth Greisman, senior vice president and general counsel for Takeda’s US unit, in a statement.

“We believe the evidence did not support a finding that Actos caused [the plaintiff’s] bladder cancer. We also believe we demonstrated that Takeda acted responsibly with regard to Actos,” Greisman added.

While Takeda rang up about half its US$15 billion sales last fiscal year in Japan, North America and Europe are also major markets and the firm has operations around the world.

Eli Lilly had partnered with Takeda to help market the drug in the US.

Actos — a prescription medication that was launched in 2010 to improve blood sugar control in adults with Type 2 diabetes — had been a promising drug for Takeda, which was recently forced to cancel development of another diabetes treatment due to safety concerns.

SALES PLUNGE

Sales of the medicine — also sold as Pioglitazone — have plunged. They fell 73 percent in the nine months to December last year from the same period a year earlier, according to Takeda’s latest financial statements.

The drug is banned in France.

The US judgement comes about a week after former GlaxoSmithKline executive Christophe Weber was installed as Takeda’s chief operating officer, one of the few foreign-born managers to sit in the top ranks of a Japanese firm.

He is expected to become the company’s president in June.

On Monday, Takeda rival Daiichi Sankyo said it was pulling out of its costly ownership of scandal-hit India drugs maker Ranbaxy, which has been slapped with US import bans linked to its manufacturing practice.

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