Here’s an article I wrote back in July. Before a decision was made whether or not to post it, the FDA advisory panel (a group of scientists) recommended by a split vote that Avandia be left on the market, pending a decision by the head of the FDA, which should be forthcoming. When her decision is made, I will write a follow-up.
How often have we read or watched media stories about greedy trial lawyers
filing spurious class action lawsuits against big tobacco and other giants
of American industry? And don’t we sometimes enjoy it immensely
when we hear that some jury somewhere stiffed the dying-of-cancer plaintiff
with a verdict in favor of the huge corporate defendant? After all, the
person harmed should have known better than to have been suckered by the
massive advertising campaign touting the safety of a deadly product.
Just when people felt they had reached a comfortable level of complacency
on this issue, along comes SmithKline Beechman. Documents recently obtained
by the New York Times allegedly show that SmithKline (now known as GlaxoSmithKline)
actively hid from regulators and the public the fact that Avandia, a SmithKline
diabetes drug known as rosiglitazone, was riskier to the heart than Actos,
a competing drug manufactured by Takeda.
In 1999, SmithKline completed a secret study comparing the heart risk
of the two drugs. The results clearly showed that Avandia was not safer
and in fact may actually cause heart attacks. Researchers began discovering
Avandia’s risk in 2007. Shortly thereafter, SmithKline admitted
that it had known of the heart attack risk at least since 2005.
Instead of reporting their findings to drug regulators as they should
have done, SmithKline apparently suppressed the results for eleven years.
A recently-discovered 2001 email discloses that a SmithKline executive
wrote that the study “was done for the U.S. business, way under
the radar. Per Sr. Mgmt request, these data should not see the light of
day to anyone outside of GSK.” A GSK spokesperson recently said
the study’s results were not disclosed because they “did not
contribute any significant new information.”
Do you get the picture now?