Makers of diabetes drug accused of misrepresenting health risks

A diabetes drug called Avandia may have more health risks than initially thought.

In February of 2010, a report from the Senate Finance committee stated that the drug was linked to thousands of heart attacks.

Last week, the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline agreed on a settlement that would pay several states more than $90 million for misrepresenting the safety of the drug.

Avandia health risks

Accusations that the company knew about the health risks of Avandia and deliberately kept them from public knowledge made the case a hot topic among medical professionals.

"This was a very sad saga in American medical history," said Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic—one of the most vocal organizations opposed to the drug. In fact, Nissen published a study back in 2007 which showed that patients taking Avandia were at a 43 percent increased risk of having a heart attack.

The settlement will be divided among 37 states and the District of Columbia. GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman Bernadette Kind denies allegations that the company engaged in false advertising:

"With regards to Avandia, we firmly believe we acted responsibly in conducting the clinical trial program, in marketing the medicine, in monitoring its safety once it was approved for use and in updating information in the medicine's labeling as new information became available."

Full public disclosure

Per the settlement agreement, the company must now revise their marketing communications to reflect any information about health risks or continued clinical trials. Those in the medical community are satisfied that GlaxoSmithKline will be held accountable for their actions.

"It is like a warning shot across the bow and causes companies to think twice before they mis-promote drugs, and that's a good thing for the public," said Nissen.

Sources: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Wane.com

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