Report: Avandia Drug Maker in Coverup

NEW YORK, July 13 (UPI) — Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, when it was known as SmithKline Beecham, tried to cover up test results on the diabetes drug Avandia, The New York Times reported.

Citing documents including sealed depositions, the newspaper said Tuesday the company spent 11 years trying to keep under wraps the results of a 1999 study comparing Avandia to Actos, a competing drug made by Takeda. The study found Avandia was no more effective than Actos and that, by some indications, Avandia might pose a greater risk of heart problems, the Times reported.

The results came at a time when SmithKline had few, if any, new products and the company did not publish the study results or report them to federal regulators, the newspaper said.

Reporting on a March 29, 2001, e-mail, the Times said SmithKline executive Dr. Martin I. Freed wrote that company management had requested the “data should not see the light of day to anyone outside of GSK.”

The potential heart risk of Avandia became publicly known in time — surfacing in 2007 when a lawsuit resulted in the company being required to post data on its Web site.

GSK officials have acknowledged they were aware of the heart risk as early as 2005 but the newly uncovered documents suggest the company had known about the potential problem almost from the time Avandia was first sold in 1999.

A document obtained by the Times addressed the matter of lost sales the company would experience — $600 million from 2002 to 2004 — if the cardiovascular risk of Avandia “intensifies.”

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