Avandia Risks

Legal Issues

Avandia Risks

Avandia (Rosiglitazone) is a medication that is  prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes.  The manufacturer claimed it improved insulin sensitivity and lowered blood sugar by keeping it under better control.  It was a major money maker for its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. According to an article in the New York Times, “Avandia was once one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world. Driven in part by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, sales were $3.2 billion in 2006.”


The original list of side effects were upper respiratory infections, broken bones in women (especially in the arm, hand, or foot), headache, swelling or water weight gain (edema), back pain, and anemia. Other side effects, which have since been found to occur, were not listed originally.  According to legal records this drug has also been implicated for other side effects including heart attack, stroke, liver failure,  heart failure, bone fracture, vision loss or blindness and death.


In May 2007 an independent research study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine outlining these more serious side effects. GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Avandia, knew about these more serious side effects for over one year before this study was published.  However, GlaxoSmithKline failed to disclose these additional risks. Their own analysis showed a 30% increase in the rate heart attacks. Instead of notifying the proper authorities, they spent considerable money to downplay the danger.


In September 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would restrict the use of Avandia, due to the risk of "cardiovascular events" such as heart attacks and strokes. Only individuals who cannot control their diabetes on other medications (or those who are already taking the medication and doing well) will be allowed to take Avandia. Since November 18, 2011, only certified doctors can prescribe this drug. Other countries have taken similar actions to withdraw  this drug from the market. In July 2012, GlaxoSmithKline plead guilty to federal charges that it failed to report clinical data on Avandia to the Food and Drug Administration.


Since September 2010, it is very difficult to obtain a prescription for Avandia.  Some people who took it may have had some serious negative side effects.  There are more than 50,000 ongoing court cases against GlaxoSmithKline claiming the company failed to inform patients about the potentially life-threatening side effects.  Many claims have already been settled in individual and class action lawsuits.   Lawyers are still accepting new clients who may have been hurt by the drug.  If you think you have been hurt by using Avandia and have not been part of these actions, it might be advantageous for you to contact an attorney.


Note: This is not legal advice.  I'm not your attorney.  Some of this information will vary in your state. This provides general information and a start in deciding what to tell your lawyer.


Nancy Mayer, Attorney-at-Law