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California County Sues GSK over Diabetes Drug Avandia

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 02, 2010 9:45 AM

As previously discussed on this blog, in late February, the Senate Finance Committee released a 334 page report taking both the FDA and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to task for what it found to be an unacceptable risk of heart attack linked to use of the drug Avandia, a medication used to treat diabetes.

On the heels of this finding and the release of an FDA report finding a link between Avandia and heart attacks, The San Jose Mercury News reported Friday that Santa Clara County, California, has filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Avandia. According to The Mercury, although individual personal injury suits against the company have begun piling up, Santa Clara's is the first suit by a government entity.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, seeks reimbursement for the costs sustained by the hospitals, clinics and counties that prescribed the drug from 1999 to mid-2007. The damages sought include not only the costs for the initial purchase of the drug, but also those accrued in serving patients who required treatments for heart conditions after taking the medication. The County of Santa Clara serves a large indigent population.

Company representatives could not be reached by The Mercury for comment. "We concluded it would really be in the interest of the people of California for a government entity to be out front challenging this sort of corporate behavior," Tamara Lange, Santa Clara County's lead deputy county counsel, told the Mercury. The suit has been filed on behalf of all patients in California and may later be consolidated with other cases filed in Pennsylvania.

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