GlaxoSmithKline Close to Settling More Avandia Lawsuits

It looks like GlaxoSmithKline may be preparing to settle more <"">Avandia lawsuits. According to a report from Bloomberg News, the Avandia settlements would cover roughly 1,000 former Avandia users who sued the company in state courts in Pennsylvania, California and Illinois.

Last year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) restricted sales of Avandia, as well as two related drugs called Avandamet and Avandaryl, after concluding their association with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes outweighed the drugs’ benefits for most patients. At the same time, regulators in Europe announced that sales of Avandia and related drugs would be suspended. In September, Glaxo announced it would stop promoting Avandia because of these issues.

Since November 2007, Avandia’s U.S. label has included a black box warning – the FDA’s strongest safety alert – detailing its association with heart attacks.

Avandia has been named in thousands of lawsuits that claim the drug caused users to suffer heart attacks and strokes. About 1,600 those Avandia lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia. About 5,300 are also pending in state courts around the country, according to Bloomberg.

During a hearing in Philadelphia, a plaintiffs’ attorney involved in the federal lawsuits said “a multiple number” of the state cases “would be resolved.” The attorney reported that 2,400 former Avandia users are settling their claims pending in Los Angeles state court, while another 200 now in state court in Philadelphia and an “undetermined” number in Illinois are expected to be resolved.

According to Bloomberg, Glaxo has spent $700 million over the last eight months to resolve about 12,000 suits alleging it failed to warn consumers that Avandia could cause heart attacks and strokes. In January, the company said it was taking a $3.5 billion charge to cover expenses linked to investigations and suits over Avandia and sales practices on other drugs.

It does appear that Glaxo is on something of a settlement streak. Yesterday, we reported – based on another Bloomberg article – that the company had spent something in the neighborhood of $120 million to settle zinc poisoning lawsuits related to some of its <"">Poligrip denture cream products.

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