Year in Review: Three Stand-out Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Cases in 2015

In 2015, there were a number of significant settlements and verdicts in pharmaceutical and medical device cases. Three important cases involved hip implants, transvaginal mesh, and Actos (Type-2 diabetes medication).

$4.5 Million Verdict in Bellwether Hip Replacement Case

hip implants by manufacturer Wright Medical TechnologyIn June, a jury awarded $4.5 million to plaintiffs in the first case over defects in hip implants by manufacturer Wright Medical Technology. There are more than 1,000 lawsuits pending against the manufacturer. This case may set the benchmark for damages in failed hip implants.

Hip replacement is a common procedure, performed on thousands of Americans every year. Some patients are alleging that their hip implant left them with debilitating injuries and pain. They claim that the implant devices failed prematurely, and have required revisional surgery. Other patients allege that the metal-on-metal devices from Wright’s CONSERVE product releases metal debris into the body.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury determined that Wright’s Profemur R was defective in its manufacturing, but not its design. Wright Medical plans to appeal the decision. A company representative has stated, “This was a one-off case involving a particular component with a strong track record of clinical success.”

Most cases against Wright Medical have pretrial proceedings in either the Los Angeles County Superior Court or the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The majority of these cases involve Wright’s CONSERVE hip implant. Although the June decision was for a different product, it is expected that this verdict will resonate in other cases.

$200 Million Settlement in Transvaginal Mesh Cases

Earlier this year, C.R. Bard agreed to pay $200 million to victims of transvaginal mesh injuries. This decision settles about 3,000 cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL), and resolves the vast majority of the company’s transvaginal mesh cases. The settlement also represents about 20% of all lawsuits against mesh manufacturers.

More than 80,000 plaintiffs filed cases in MDLs against transvaginal mesh manufacturers. To date, manufacturers have settled or lost verdicts that have totaled over $1 billion in payouts.

Transvaginal mesh is a made of polypropylene plastic, which is inserted through a woman’s vagina. The device can treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), conditions that can arise after menopause, childbirth, or a hysterectomy. Surgery to implant the mesh has a high complication rate. Mesh devices can also erode over time, leading to painful complications like infection, scaring, nerve damage, and muscular problems that require additional surgery.

Mesh lawsuits claim that manufacturers did not properly ensure product safety and effectiveness, and that the marketing of the product was false and misleading. Despite the payouts, C.R. Bard continues to maintain their device is safe. Initially the company took cases to trial, and attempted to have decisions reversed on appeal. Courts upheld the verdicts, forcing the manufacturer to adopt a different legal tactic of settling cases.

The manufacturer’s first major mesh settlement came in 2014 when it agreed to pay out $21 million to resolve 500 lawsuits. Later that year, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin warned the company that they could stand to lose more trial cases, urging the manufacturer to settle claims outside of court. According to a Bloomberg report, C.R. Bard recently added $337 million to its $660 million in lawsuit reserves in anticipation of future settlements.

Actos Settlements: One of the Largest Drug Company Payouts Ever

Actos - Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co.More than 10,000 lawsuits across the country have been filed against drug maker Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. for injuries related to their Type 2 diabetes medication Actos.

In the last two years, the Japanese manufacturer has lost five bellwether trials that linked Actos to bladder cancer. Eventually two of these verdicts were overturned in an appellate court. To avoid further loses in court, Takeda decided to settle approximately 9,000 claims nationwide this past April. The settlement total could rise to as much as $2.7 billion as the the plaintiff class continues to grow.

Despite these settlements, makers of the product still maintain that the drug’s benefits far outweigh the negative side effects, and that the company did not provide erroneous information or improperly market the product.

Each claimant’s payout will be calculated using a “Points Matrix.” Point will be awarded for meeting specific criteria. The more points received, the greater the damages a claimant will be paid out.

The matrix includes criteria such as:

  • Length of time Actos was taken
  • The Actos dosage
  • Extent of injury and treatment
  • Age
  • Risk factors for bladder cancer, including smoking

Takeda anticipates that all of the plaintiffs will agree to settlement, so have added more funds for other settlement reserves.

Who We Are

Pierce Skrabanek practices various types of law, including personal injury cases involving pharmaceuticals and medical devices. If you or a loved one has been harmed by dangerous drugs or defective medical devices, contact us at (832) 690-7000. A case review is always free and at no obligation.

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