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California county sues Glaxo for false advertising of Avandia drug

Thursday, June 03, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: false advertising, Big Pharma, health news

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(NaturalNews) Recent reports revealing the dangers of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) diabetes drug, Avandia, have not gone unnoticed. Santa Clara County in Northern California recently filed a lawsuit against the drug giant for suppressing evidence that the drug increases heart attack risk.

The lawsuit is demanding that every person in California who has taken Avandia receive restitution from GSK. California state law prohibits companies from falsely advertising their products, and according to Santa Clara County, GSK did just this with its Avandia drug.

"GSK's unlawful conduct has cost patients, their insurers and government payers millions of dollars, and it has caused needless suffering to thousands of Californians," explained Miguel Marquez, Santa Clara County's acting county counsel. "This is precisely the sort of corporate malfeasance that California law prohibits."

GSK has denied all allegations and continues to claim the FDA-approved drug is safe, despite recent reports that show the drug is responsible for causing thousands of heart attacks. The Senate Committee Report revealed back in February proved that GSK knew about the risks associated with Avandia for years but did nothing about it.

Internal GSK documents have also revealed that the company's own scientific studies illustrate the dangers of Avandia. Nevertheless, GSK continues to plead innocence and is alleging that the California lawsuit has no footing.

Because Santa Clara County spent roughly $2 million on Avandia for patients at its public hospital between 1999 and 2007, it believes it should receive restitution for money wasted on the harmful drug. Additionally, because GSK's advertisements were targeted towards diabetics, who are classified as disabled under California law, the county is seeking triple damages from GSK.

Time will tell if other California counties file lawsuits of their own against GSK for its gross negligence. Countless millions of dollars, both taxpayer and insurance, have been wasted on Avandia, and now is the time to seek restitution for them.

The Santa Clara County case is a good model for other counties to imitate on behalf of public funds that were wasted on dangerous drugs. Though difficult, individuals injured by pharmaceutical companies can also seek restitution, however current federal laws favor drug companies rather than the people.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court reaffirmed last year that individuals have the right to sue drug companies for harm caused by inadequate risk labeling on drugs. This is a small step in the right direction towards holding drug companies accountable for their behavior, but more needs to be done to stop criminal behavior that has long gone unchecked in the drug industry.

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