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Families Face Battle With GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Over Dangerous Diabetes Drug


1/30/2013 8:15:33 AM

Thousands of families in the UK could be deprived of compensation for the death or harm of a relative caused by the diabetes drug Avandia, even though the British maker has agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle similar claims in the US. The licence for Avandia was revoked in Europe, in September 2010, because of evidence that it could cause heart failure and heart attacks. The drug can still be prescribed in the US, but not to patients at risk of heart problems. A scientist with the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Avandia could have been responsible for 100,000 heart attacks in the US. The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, has admitted concealing data about the damaging side-effects of the drug, and there is evidence of the drug's harmful effects. But, despite this, GSK is not prepared to settle claims in the UK without a court fight. The history of drug litigation in the UK suggests that families might not easily get compensation. Daniel Slade, with the Express company of solicitors in Manchester, has 19 cases on his books and has begun proceedings against GSK in four of them. The pharmaceutical firm has told the solicitors that it will contest the cases. In just one of the cases it has indicated a willingness to spend £600,000 on its defence, which, the solicitor says, would be a fraction of what the claim is worth. "It is very disappointing," said Slade. "We anticipate that these claims do have a good prospect of success, but they still have to prove their case in the UK with suitable evidence. They are tasked with having to produce that evidence, including medical expert opinion. It is a burden one would have thought they might not have to go through." He expected that, if GSK fought in the courts rather than settled outside, as it had done in the US, it would take years for bereaved relatives, or those who have been harmed, to get any sort of payment.

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