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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Payments to Push Diabetes Drug?

Medical experts who were paid by the maker of type 2 diabetes drug Avandia were much more likely to extol its efficacy and safety than were independent authorities, according to a study published recently in a medical journal.

In the study published last month, researchers looked at 202 articles by 180 authors who wrote about Avandia and the risk of heart attack to users. They then had independent reviewers rate the articles as favorable, unfavorable, or neutral.

The study found that as many as 87 percent of those who wrote favorably about the use of Avandia, or rosiglitazone, had potential conflicts of interest with the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline. Only 20 percent of those with unfavorable opinions had received payment from the company.

The Cochran Firm has long been following pharmaceutical industry developments that posed potential risk to consumers, and filing lawsuits where justified against defective pharmaceutical products. For example, this blog on March 2 reported that Santa Clara County, California, and others were suing GlaxoSmithKline over its handling of risks associated with Avandia. The county is seeking reimbursement of more than $2 million for costs of medication for indigent patients in 1999-2007, plus damages for victims who suffered heart attacks, strokes, or other adverse effects from use of Avandia.

And on February 5, we reported that a study by Harvard University researchers found that in a group of more than 26,000 diabetic patients who took Avandia in 2000-2006 had more than twice as many heart attacks as did patients using other medications.

The New England Journal of Medicine, in June 2007, reviewed studies which found links between use of Avandia and a significant rise in the risk of heart attack.

Dr. Rudy Bilous, a British endocrinologist who reported favorable findings on Avandia, has told The New York Times that drug company financing may create an appearance of bias. "…the only people in the current environment doing the work and funding the research are the pharmaceutical industry, and their concern is for licensing, not necessarily the science."

Dr. Mark Stolar, professor of clinical medicine at Northwestern University, said: "There are very few people in whom I don't detect bias based on where their conflicts lie."

This controversy over medical ethics may leave the average person bewildered. But the Cochran Firm has a background of success in pharmaceutical litigation. If you have been prescribed Avandia and are concerned about possible negative effects on your health, we urge you to contact the Cochran Firm for a free evaluation of your possible case.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:37 PM

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