Bryan Cohen Feb. 25, 2013, 6:30pm

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Legal Newsline) - Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway filed a lawsuit Thursday against drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline for allegedly engaging in deceptive advertising.

GlaxoSmithKline is the manufacturer of the prescription drug Avandia, which was marketed as a treatment for diabetes. Conway alleges that GSK tested Avandia before its release to the public and found that it posed greater cardiovascular risks to diabetics than other drugs on the market. GSK then allegedly proceeded to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to promote, advertise and sell Avandia to the public.

"The filing of this complaint sends a clear message that we will not tolerate drug companies that put profits ahead of patient care," Conway said. "We will not stand idly by as drug companies operate outside of the law and put Kentuckians' health at risk."

The lawsuit also alleges that the makers of Avandia knew there was no scientific evidence to substantiate its claims about the effectiveness and safety of the drugs. GSK allegedly compensated scientists who made favorable findings about the effectiveness and safety of Avandia and buried unfavorable scientific data about the drug.

"Doctors from the Mayo Clinic found that 87 percent of the authors who wrote scientific articles about the safety and effectiveness of Avandia had financial ties to GSK," Conway said.

Conway's lawsuit seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief of up to $10,000 per violation against GSK. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent GSK from conducting business with the state in a false, unfair, deceptive or misleading way in the future.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued severe restrictions on the prescription of Avandia due to the serious cardiovascular risks associated with the drug. Several other state attorneys general are in similar litigation with GSK.

As of 2010, more than 370,000 Kentuckians were diagnosed with diabetes, the condition that Avandia purportedly treated.

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