Takeda to post loss after $2.4bn drug settlement

A picture taken on June 9, 2011 in a pharmacy in Dijon, eastern France, shows a pack of Actos anti-diabetic drugs. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Diabetes drug Actos used to account for nearly a third of Takeda's revenues

Asia's biggest drugmaker Takeda has agreed to pay $2.4bn (£1.6bn) to settle thousands of lawsuits in the US alleging it hid cancer risks related to its top-selling diabetes drug Actos.

The Japanese firm expects a full-year loss as a result of the legal charges.

The loss will be its first since the company listed on the Nikkei in 1949.

Takeda is still defending the drug, however, saying the claims made were "without merit", and it has not admitted liability.

The company said the settlement would "reduce financial uncertainties for the company".

In a statement, the firm said: "Takeda's decision to settle does not change the company's continued commitment to Actos.

"Actos continues to be available as a treatment option in the US, Japan and other countries".

"Takeda stands behind the substantial data that confirm a positive benefit/risk profile for Actos, which includes more than 14 years of clinical and patient experience with the product."

Drug lawsuits

The settlement fund requires 95% of litigants, or those with claims against Takeda, to join the accord. However, some former Actos users may still oppose the deal.

Takeda's settlement is one of the largest lawsuits in the US based on a drug's side effects.

The legal challenges began in 2011 after the US Food and Drug Administration warned that patients using Actos for more than a year could face an increased risk of bladder cancer.

US drug settlements
2015: Takeda Pharmaceutical Actos diabetes drug $2.4bn
2012: Bayer AG Yasmin birth-control pills $1bn
2007: Merck & Co Vioxx painkiller $4.9bn

The Osaka-based company has since been hit with more than 8,000 lawsuits in the US over claims it hid Actos' cancer risks.

The firm has also gone to trial at least nine times since 2013.

Last year, a US court ordered Takeda and its former partner Eli Lilly to pay a record $9bn to a former Actos user who claims the drug caused his bladder cancer.

The punitive damages were later reduced to $37m by the court's judge.

Actos used to account for up to a third of Takeda's revenues and has generated more than $16bn in sales for the company since its release in 1999.

However, the drug's patent has since expired and Takeda is struggling to maintain sales in the face of generic copies created by rival Ranbaxy.

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