Drug study appears to clear Avandia, but may not stop the lawsuits

Ann Knef Feb. 12, 2008, 11:14am

Will new data dampen enthusiasm for suing drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over its diabetes drug Avandia?

According to a report by pharmaceutical industry journalist Ed Silverman, results of a trial designed to determine whether treating diabetes would reduce heart disease found that no particular drug was responsible for serious cardiovascular problems.

"This would appear to contradict the controversial meta-analysis published last spring in the New England Journal of Medicine, which contended Avandia increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 43 percent," Silverman wrote Feb. 6.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded and helped organize the "ACCORD" trial, indicated that "the culprit behind heart attacks and strokes appeared to be a strict lowering of blood sugar, or glucose," Silverman wrote.

Only one Avandia lawsuit appears to have been filed locally.

On Jan. 15, plaintiff Mamie Coleman of St. Louis County claimed she suffered a cardiac injury after using Avandia in a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Represented by John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis, Coleman's suit seeks damages for personal injuries and economic losses as a result of using Avandia.

Among other things, Coleman alleges GSK failed to conduct sufficient testing, which if properly performed, would have shown that Avandia had serious side effects, including cardiothrombotic events, cardiac injury and other serious side effects.

According to a December report in LawyersandSettlements.com, there have been approximately 50 state and federal Avandia cases filed across the country.

An Avandia Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has been established in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where GSK's U.S. headquarters is located.

Ted Frank of PointOfLaw Forum expressed some doubt that results of the ACCORD trial will diminish Avandia litigation.

"History shows that this new data cannot be expected to deter the original flood of litigation, since drug litigation is about trial lawyer profits, rather than public health," Frank wrote on Feb. 12.

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