GSK To Face Racketeering Charges Regarding Avandia Marketing

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will have to defend itself against racketeering charges in connection to its marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia according to a Third Circuit ruling.

The three judge panel of the Third Circuit upheld U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe’s 2013 refusal to dismiss RICO claims brought against the drug maker by three parties: Allied Services, UFCW Local 1776 and United Benefit Fund.

The lawsuit alleges that the company violated anti-racketeering law by mail and wire fraud and witness tampering, among other means. At the heart of the federal suit are claims that GSK manipulated the health plans into covering Avandia at a cut-rate, concealing heart-related risks posed by the drug. The lawsuit cites misuse of scientific data, false or misleading statements made during a 2007 advertising campaign, misleading articles and intimidation of physicians.

Diabetes drug Avandia linked to heart problems

Avandia (the brand name of the drug rosglitazone) was approved by the FDA in 1999 as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. The FDA placed severe restrictions on the drug in 2010 after studies linked it to high rates of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. GSK claimed that the side effects associated with the drug are, in fact, only mild ones. However, critics allege that the company had access to data indicating otherwise, but chose to conceal Avandia risks. Follow-up studies appeared to confirm heart risks associated with the drug. One such study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in June of 2008, advocated for the removal of Avandia from the market on the basis of such health risks.

In February of 2010, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee released a report accusing the company of suppressing critics, hiding data, and intimidating physicians. Throughout this time, the findings also noted, the company marketed its drug aggressively. The company ended up paying a $3 billion settlement in 2013 in a federal suit based on allegations that GSK failed to report clinical safety data on the drug.

The company also agreed to pay over $700 million in settlement money to resolve approximately 15,000 Avandia health risk claims. Despite these settlements, GlaxoSmithKline has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

The Sanders Firm wins crucial victory

Marc Grossman, a senior partner with The Sanders Firm who represented United Benefit Fund, praised the recent Third Circuit ruling. “We believe the decision was very well thought out and we look forward to having a trial so that we can recoup the monies for our client and its thousands of members who are victims here by spending far more than they should have for their much-needed medication,” he stated in an email. “We believe justice will prevail.”

The Sanders Firm is pleased to see that GSK is being held accountable in a court of law in regards to its representation of Avandia health risks. If you or a family member has suffered heart problems or injury after taking Avandia and would like to speak with an accomplished product liability lawyer about your rights, call 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800-324-7752). We will be happy to set up a free, no-obligation case review for you. Resources

  1. Courthousenews, Avandia-Linked RICO Claims Dog Drugmaker
  2. NY Times, Diabetes Drug Maker Hid Test Data, Files Indicate