Shurtleff files Avandia lawsuit

Keith Loria Nov. 15, 2010, 6:41pm


SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) - Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical giant that allegedly made misleading claims about a drug.

GlaxoSmithKline allegedly marketed Avandia as a new "wonder drug" to combat type 2 diabetes, but misrepresented its effectiveness through promotion and advertising.

The suit alleges that, beginning in 1999, the company misrepresented to the Federal Drug Administration and the public at large that Avandia would reduce diabetic cardiovascular risks and was better at lowering blood sugars than other established drugs.

Various studies, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the drug significantly increased the risk of heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular events in diabetics when compared to other established and less expensive drugs.

Shurtleff's complaint alleges that GSK defrauded Utah out of $7.8 million, which represents how much the State Medicaid Program spent on Avandia between Jan. 1, 2001-June 30.

"Our office will continue to pursue drug companies that misrepresent the effectiveness of their drugs for economic gain and at the expense of the citizens of Utah and the State Medicaid program," Shurtleff said.

The drug was recently removed by regulators from the European market and the FDA has recently restricted its use in the USA.

"The state Medicaid Program paid significantly more for a drug that in fact was no more effective than traditional drugs that were less expensive," Assistant Attorney General Robert Morton said.

"Unlike the less expensive traditional drugs, Avandia exposed Utah Medicaid recipients to greater risks of heart attacks and other cardiac complications."

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