Santa Clara County sues Glaxo over diabetes drug

March 01, 2010 3:12 PM

SAN JOSE (AP) A Northern California county has filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline accusing the pharmaceutical company of suppressing evidence that its diabetes drug Avandia causes increased risk of heart attacks.

The lawsuit filed by Santa Clara County seeks restitution for all Avandia purchasers in California claiming the company violated state false-advertising statutes.

"GSK's unlawful conduct has cost patients, their insurers, and government payors millions of dollars, and it has caused needless suffering to thousands of Californians," said Santa Clara County's acting county counsel Miguel Marquez. "This is precisely the sort of corporate malfeasance that California law prohibits."

County officials say their lawsuit is the first by a government entity against the company over Avandia. It was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern California District, on Friday.

The company, which is based in London, says the lawsuit has no merit and that scientific evidence shows the FDA-approved drug doesn't increase heart attack risk.

The lawsuit follows the release of a U.S. Senate report last month charging that Glaxo minimized Avandia's safety risks and withheld data from the Food and Drug Administration.

Senators said the Senate Finance Committee's report was based on researchers' studies of Avandia, internal GlaxoSmithKline documents and FDA documents.