Avandia taken on again in St. Clair County

Kelly Holleran Apr. 10, 2009, 7:00am

A Pennsylvania woman and an Illinois man say GlaxoSmithKline was wrong in selling a diabetes drug without first warning of potential serious side effects from which they suffered.

Marlene Dillard and Terrrance Williams, on behalf of Monte Williams, filed suit April 7 in St. Clair County against the drug company.

John J. Driscoll of St. Louis, Christopher Cueto of Belleville and Robert L. Salim of Natchitoches, La., will be representing them.

The same group of lawyers filed a similar suit against GlaxoSmithKline in February in St. Clair County.

Dillard and Williams they used Avandia to treat their type 2 diabetes mellitus, but suffered severe injuries from their ingestion of the drug.

Avandia caused Dillard to suffer a stroke in January 2001, she says.

Monte Williams claims he suffered cardio thrombotic and cardiovascular injury because of his ingestion of the medication.

Both claim this happened before Avandia's label was changed on Aug. 14, 2007, to warn of the potential increased risk of heart failure. Again, the label was changed on Nov. 19, 2007, to warn of the potential risk of myocardial ischemia.

Dillard and Williams say GlaxoSmithKline should have provided the warnings before the FDA required the company to do so, especially since the company knew that most people with diabetes have risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol that provide a susceptibility for heart disease and stroke. In fact, more than 65 percent of deaths in patients with diabetes are from cardiovascular causes, according to the complaint.

However, GlaxoSmithKline failed to perform adequate tests on the product. If the company had performed enough testing, Avandia would only have been allowed to enter the market with a warning label, the complaint says.

Instead of warning its customers of risks, though, GlaxoSmithKline promoted the drug in an extensive mass media advertising campaign, the suit states.

At the time Dillard and Williams took Avandia, there were safer medications on the market, they say.

"As a direct and proximate result of the conduct of the Defendant as set forth above, Plaintiffs became ill and were impaired in their health, strength, and activity, sustaining injury to their bodies and persons, incurred medical expenses, lost wages, suffered disabilities, suffered pain and will in all respects in the future," the suit states.

In the 10-count suit, Dillard and Williams are seeking a judgment in excess of $400,000, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-176.

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