St. Clair County Avandia suits name 186 plaintiffs

Kelly Holleran May 28, 2009, 5:57am


More than 180 people say GlaxoSmithKline was wrong in selling a diabetes drug without first warning of potential serious side effects from which they or their deceased relatives suffered.

Lead plaintiffs Tina Adkins and David Adkisson, along with 184 others, filed two separate suits May 15 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 similar suits against GlaxoSmithKline in February and in April in St. Clair County.

Plaintiffs in the May suits claim they used Avandia to treat their type 2 diabetes mellitus, but suffered severe injuries from their ingestion of the drug.

Before the plaintiffs were prescribed the drug, GlaxoSmithKline knew Avandia was associated with a significantly increased risk of heart failure, myocardial ischemia and ischemic events, such as cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke, according to the complaints.

Still, GlaxoSmithKline provided no warnings on the dangers of the drug until 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.

However, the plaintiffs say they had already begun taking the medication before warnings were added to the label.

As a result of their ingestion of the drug, plaintiffs say they became ill and were impaired in their health, strength and activity. They also incurred medical costs, lost wages, suffered disabilities and experienced pain, according to the complaints.

"As a direct result of Defendant's misconduct alleged herein, Plaintiffs have suffered and will continue to suffer emotional and mental distress and anxiety from the fear of knowing there is a likelihood of serious complications or death from significant increased risk of heart failure, myocardial ischemia and ischemic events," the suits state.

Nineteen of the plaintiffs had relatives who died from taking Avandia, they claim.

The plaintiffs 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 complaints say.

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

At the time the plaintiffs took Avandia, there were safer medications on the market, they say.

In the 12-count Adkins suit, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $450,000, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

In the 12-count Adkisson suit, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $450,000, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers: 09-L-253, 09-L-254.

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