If you took Avandia and experienced serious heart-related compensation, you could be entitled to receive monetary damages from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. The drug company made Avandia to treat type 2 diabetes and got approval for it from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999. Since then the medication has been proven to increase the risk of serious and life-threatening heart conditions in some patients.
Thousands of people have already filed Avandia lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline and more are expected. The company is facing the possibility of paying billions in settlements to the patients and their families who suffered after taking this medication. The risk is not just based on anecdotal evidence; studies have found that Avandia significantly increases the risk of having a heart attack of developing heart failure.
Furthermore, investigations have proven that GlaxoSmithKline knew about these heart-related risks for years before the information came to light to the public. The company may have actively tried to hide these risks and those suing believe that GlaxoSmithKline was negligent and should have warned doctors and patients of all the risks associated with taking Avandia.
Avandia for Diabetes
GlaxoSmithKline developed Avandia, which is the generic drug rosiglitazone, to treat type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which a person loses sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. If high blood sugar is not treated, the condition can lead to a number of complications like nerve damage and blindness. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and losing weight can lower blood sugar, but it isn’t enough for everyone.
Drugs like Avandia can be used in conjunction with those healthy lifestyle changes to lower blood sugar and treat type 2 diabetes. Rosiglitazone is a thiazolidinedione and it works by increasing sensitivity to insulin and helping the body to flush out sugar through urine excretion. Avandia takes a couple of weeks to work and is used over long periods of time to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
As with any type of drug, doctors and patients weigh the benefits and risks when deciding whether to use Avandia. For many patients the benefits of controlling blood sugar and preventing diabetes complications outweigh the potential risks. Even so, there are common side effects caused by the drug and these include cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose or sore throat, sinus and upper respiratory infections, headaches, and back pain.
Most of the side effects of rosiglitazone are tolerable for most patients. Many of them lessen or go away with time. There are other more serious side effects, though, that can have lasting consequences including death. Avandia may cause heart conditions and although many patients will never experience this, the drug increases the risk of having a heart attack and developing congestive heart failure. These risks are what have caused thousands of Avandia lawsuits.
Although Avandia has been on the market since 1999 it was not until 2007 that the FDA issued a warning about the potential for heart problems. The agency announced that studies had conclusively found the elevated risk for heart failure and for worsening heart failure in patients who already suffer from the condition as well as heart attacks and possibly even strokes. The evidence led to the inclusion of a black box warning, the FDA’s strongest warning for the most serious side effects, on the labels and packaging information for Avandia.
Since 2007 only more evidence has come to light about the risks of taking Avandia. One study estimates that 100,000 heart attacks, strokes, heart failures, and fatalities from these conditions can be blamed on the drug. Another study, reported in 2010, found that patients taking Avandia were more likely to die than those taking other drugs for type 2 diabetes.
In 2010 the FDA announced that it was placing restrictions on the use and availability of Avandia because of the growing evidence of risks. The agency stated that the drug could now only be used for people with type 2 diabetes that cannot be controlled by other medications or lifestyle changes. In other words, it is to be restricted to a treatment of last choice. Also in 2010 the European Medicines Agency, the European equivalent of the FDA, banned use of Avandia entirely.
The serious and now well-known risks of using this medication have led to tens of thousands of Avandia lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline. Plaintiffs and their lawyers claim that the company new about the risks and failed to warn patients and doctors.
The evidence that this is true was enough to warrant an investigation and hearing by the Senate Finance Committee. Testimony given there demonstrated that GlaxoSmithKline knew about the risk, suppressed critics of Avandia, and hid the data that proved it. The company promoted and marketed the drug to boost sales, knowing full well what the risks were to patients.
By 2010 GlaxoSmithKline had settled many of the Avandia cases against it for hundreds of millions of dollars. The company settled in order to save time and money on lawsuits, while refusing to admit to any wrongdoing or negligence. In 2013 the company paid out $229 million more in lawsuits filed by several state attorneys general.
It wasn’t until 2012 that GlaxoSmithKline made any admission of guilt. The company pleaded guilty to federal charges. They admitted to not reporting clinical data that proved there was a risk of heart disease. As a result of the guilty plea, the company was forced to pay a near-record $3 billion, although this total included money for illegal marketing of other drugs, not just Avandia.
The Future of Avandia Lawsuits
While many cases have been settled, there are still plenty that are outstanding. Even more cases are expected to be filed as more and more people harmed by Avandia learn about GlaxoSmithKline’s culpability. The company has set aside several billion dollars to settle any future suits. If you have been hurt by Avandia, this money is ready and waiting. Contact a lawyer to find out what your options are and how you can try to get a piece of the settlement money.