Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Glaxo to Pay $60 Million in Avandia Product Liability Lawsuits

Pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline will pay $60 million to settle product liability lawsuits arising out of its anti-type II diabetes drug Avandia. The lawsuits alleged that Glaxo had knowledge of the risks of developing heart disease from use of Avandia, but failed to make that information public.

This is the first part of several settlements that the company is expected to pay out. The company currently faces 4,000 lawsuits, all related to medical injuries arising from Avandia use. This settlement applies to 700 lawsuits. In July, Glaxo Smith Kline is expected to face its first trial related to the Avandia injuries.

The Food and Drug Administration is also reviewing Avandia's safety risks, and is expected to present its report to an advisory committee in July this year. Several studies have pointed to the high risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart disease, from the use of Avandia. These studies have compared Avandia to its nearest competitor Actos, and found that Avandia does not offer users more benefits compared to Actos, and could actually come with more health risks.

Glaxo insists that these studies are not conclusive, and says that more studies must be conducted by qualified scientists before any conclusions about Avandia’s safety can be drawn. Earlier this year, the company suffered a setback in its Avandia defense when two US lawmakers released a report that criticized Glaxo's handling of safety issues surrounding Avandia.

The development of cardiovascular disease has been the number one Avandia-related health risk that California pharmaceutical products liability lawyers have been concerned about, but is far from the only issue related to the use of the anti-diabetes drug. Last year, a study pointed to a high risk of bone fractures and the development of osteoporosis in people who use Avandia. Glaxo denied those findings too.

The drug has also been linked to rare, but confirmed, reports of eye complications. Several patients have reported the development of a condition called macular edema, in which bleeding blood vessels can lead to blurred vision, inability to differentiate between colors, and ultimately, loss of eyesight.

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