Kelly Holleran Jul. 15, 2013, 2:44pm

Nearly 500 people from across the country filed six different lawsuits on June 25 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, saying 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 plaintiff Adrienne Abel, along with 78 others, filed one of the lawsuits; another complaint was filed by lead plaintiff George Ira Carroll and 81 others; lead plaintiff Adell Font and 83 others filed a third; Richard Jamison and 81 others filed a fourth complaint; Ronald Mekal and 78 others filed a fifth; and Charles Reeves and 80 others filed a sixth.

Christopher Cueto and Michael Gras of Belleville and Robert L. Salim of Salim-Beasley in Natchitoches, La. will be representing all of the plaintiffs.

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

Before the plaintiffs were prescribed the drug, GlaxoSmithKline knew Avandia was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, the complaints allege.

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 suffered a number of cardiovascular injuries, as well as pain and suffering. They also lost large sums of money because of their inability to work and incurred permanent disfigurement and disability.

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.

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 each of their two-count suits, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000, plus costs, attorney’s fees and other relief the court deems just.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers: 13-L-319, 13-L-320, 13-L-321, 13-L-322, 13-L-323, 13-L-324.


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