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Avandia: not so harmful after all


The results of the ACCORD trial, which was designed to determine whether treating diabetes would reduce heart disease, found that no particular drug was responsible for serious cardiovascular problems. This would appear to contradict the controversial meta-analysis published last spring in the New England Journal of Medicine, which contended Avandia increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 43 percent. ...

"We found no link," William Friedewald of Columbia University in New York, one of the directors of the trial, says in a statement. "Extensive analyses by ACCORD researchers have not determined a specific cause for the increased deaths among the intensive treatment group. Based on analyses conducted to date, there is no evidence that any medication or combination of medications is responsible," adds the NHLBI, which did its own analysis.

See also NIH and Glaxo on the subject. Whether NEJM will retract its politicized editorial remains to be seen.

History shows that this new data cannot be expected to deter the original flood of litigation, since drug litigation is about trial lawyer profits, rather than public health. Indeed, a Google search for Avandia turns up eight or nine Google ads from trial lawyers (including one from Erin Brockovich) asking people to blame Avandia for their heart attack and inviting them to sue. And how many people stopped taking useful medication because of trial-lawyer advertising over Avandia? As Victor Schwartz and Tiger Joyce note in the January 25 Providence Journal, lawyers' solicitations can be hazardous to your health. For more on the dangers of attorney advertising in drug litigation, see June 14.

Update: the Madison Record reports that, notwithstanding the existence of MDL No. 1871 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, there are only about fifty Avandia lawsuits to date, though it is unclear how many plaintiffs are represented in those cases, as attorneys have learned to reduce filing fees by including multiple claimants in a single case, making statistical analysis of counting cases difficult.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.