State Sues Makers of Diabetes Drug, Claims Deceptive Advertising
Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Consumer Protection have filed a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, LLC (GSK), the manufacturer of the prescription drug Avandia. The lawsuit filed this week in Franklin Circuit Court alleges that GSK violated Kentucky's Consumer Protection Act by engaging in deceptive advertising, overstating the effectiveness of Avandia and hiding the drug's risks from Kentuckians.
Avandia is a prescription drug that launched by GSK in 1999 and marketed as a treatment for diabetes. GSK asserted that Avandia was a "significant advance" in diabetes medication. Additionally, the drug maker affirmatively represented that Avandia could reduce the cardiovascular risks suffered by diabetics. As of 2010, more than 370,000 Kentuckians had been diagnosed with diabetes, the condition that Avandia purportedly treated. The Attorney General's lawsuit alleges that Avandia, rather than reducing cardiovascular risks, actually increases the cardiovascular risks for diabetics.
The Attorney General alleges that GSK tested Avandia before its release to the public and discovered that it posed greater cardiovascular risks to diabetics than other drugs on the market at the time. The lawsuit purports that the makers of Avandia, fully aware and in spite of the increased health risks to Kentucky consumers, proceeded to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise, promote 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," General Conway said. "We will not stand idly by as drug companies operate outside of the law and put Kentuckians' health at risk."
The complaint also alleges that the makers of Avandia knew that there was no scientific evidence to substantiate their claims about the safety and effectiveness of the drug. GSK is accused of compensating scientists who made favorable findings about the safety and effectiveness of Avandia. The lawsuit claims it was GSK's policy to bury unfavorable scientific data about Avandia by not releasing the negative findings, or only releasing limited information about the tests.
"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," General Conway said.
Attorney General Conway is seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation against GSK. The injunctive relief sought would seek to prevent GSK from conducting business within the Commonwealth in an unfair, false, misleading and/or deceptive way in the future.
The FDA has issued severe restrictions on the prescription of Avandia due to the serious cardiovascular risks it creates. Several other State Attorneys General are currently in similar litigation with the makers of Avandia.
Source: Attorney General's Office