Avandia caused heart problems, St. Clair County claimants say

Kelly Holleran Mar. 5, 2009, 2:28am


An East St. Louis woman and a Pennsylvania man filed suit against a major drug company in St. Clair County, alleging the company's anti-diabetic drug caused detrimental effects on their hearts and cardiovascular systems.

Marsha Morris and Eric Robinson filed suit against Glaxosmithkline over Avandia on Feb. 26.

They claim they had been taking Avandia, which is approved to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus, in an effort to better control their disease and to reduce health complications, such as heart attacks and strokes.

But long-term use of the drug is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, myocardial ischemia and ischemis events, such as a stroke, the suit states.

No customers were informed of the risks until Aug. 14, 2007, when the Avandia labels were changed and included cautions about the increased risk of heart failure.

Again, on Nov. 19, 2007, warnings were changed to include the potential risk of myocardial ischemia, Morris and Robinson claim.

Glaxosmithkline waited to educate consumers of the risk of the drugs in an attempt to earn more money, the suit states.

"The Defendant engaged in extensive mass media direct-to-consumer promotion, education, and advertising of Avandia for the purpose of increasing sales and stimulating consumer requests for Avandia prescriptions, independent of the advice of medical professionals," the suit states.

As a result of the company's hesitancy to release warnings about the drug, Morris and Robinson both claim they faced adverse effects.

Before the label change and after taking the drug for five years, Morris was forced to go to the hospital on March 7, 2007, after she suffered a myocardial infarction due to her Avandia ingestion. Morris' problem required stenting of the proximal left anterior descending artery.

Robinson, who had been taking the drug since 2001, suffered a myocardial infarction event. He was hospitalized in July 2007 and had to undergo angioplasty.

Because of their problems, Morris and Robinson experienced impaired health, strength and activity, sustained injuries, incurred medical expenses and lost wages, they claim.

Had testing been performed on the Avandia, the drug would not have been allowed to enter the market and Morris and Robinson would not have experienced the adverse effects, according to the complaint.

In the 10-count suit, they are seeking a judgment in excess of $350,000, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems appropriate.

They are represented by John J. Driscoll of St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0104.

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