GSK Won’t Settle With UK Avandia Patients

GSK Won’t Settle With UK Avandia Patients

January 30th, 2013 // 4:04 pm @

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Although GlaxoSmithKline agreed to settle lawsuits filed in the US by people who claimed they were harmed by the controversial Avandia diabetes pill, which was linked to heart attacks and strokes, the drugmaker is reportedly refusing to adopt the same approach in the UK. Instead, Glaxo is preparing to fight at least four complaints that have so far been filed in court.

“It is very disappointing,” Daniel Slade, an attorney who represents 19 families, tells
The Guardian. “We anticipate that these claims do have a good prospect of success, but they still have to prove their case in the UK with suitable evidence. They are tasked with having to produce that evidence, including medical expert opinion. It is a burden one would have thought they might not have to go through.”

In the US, Glaxo paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle Avandia lawsuits (see this and this), and the drugmaker last year paid $3 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges in connection with off-label promotion of several drugs, reporting false prices and failing to report safety data concerning Avandia.

The attorney should not be surprised, though. In the UK, patients have generally walked away with smaller compensation and such legal sparring can drag on for a lengthy period. It has become “increasingly difficult in the UK to challenge large corporations such as pharmaceutical companies, an incredibly expensive form of litigation,” Liz Thomas, policy manager at the patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents, tells the paper.

For this reason, Merck, for instance, took a similar approach after withdrawing its Vioxx painkiller, which was also linked to heart attacks and strokes, and later reaching a $4.8 billion deal to settle thousands of lawsuits filed in the US. At the time, the drugmaker (MRK) refused to settle cases in 18 other countries and, in the UK, drew the wrath of several members of Parliament (back story).

A Glaxo (GSK) spokesman tells the paper that “we have every sympathy for people with complications associated with diabetes and those who care for them, but unfortunately we are unable to comment on individual legal cases. We continue to believe that the company acted appropriately and responsibly in its management of Avandia.” Wait… really?


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