While the federal government’s Food and Drug Administration weighs
its options on diabetes drug Avandia, doctors are increasingly abandoning
the medication after a steady stream of research showing it increases
risks of heart attacks, liver failure and fractures. Three years ago,
doctors wrote more than 5.6 million prescriptions for Avandia; today’s
number is down to one million.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline isn’t ready to give up on the
drug that has brought in billions of dollars in revenue. CNN reports that
Glaxo is still pulling in $1 billion a year from Avandia, even with drastically
reduced sales.

Lukewarm FDA Support

In July, an FDA advisory panel voted by a slim majority to allow Glaxo
to continue selling the Type 2 diabetes medication introduced 11 years
ago. But in early September, in the pages of the British Medical Journal,
FDA researchers leveled accusations that the advisory panel had been stacked
in favor of Glaxo and Avandia.

The question doctors face today is whether or not the drug Avandia is worth
the risk to their patients. Though prescriptions are way down, there are
still a million prescriptions being written – some would say a million
prescriptions too many.

“Nobody Should be Prescribing It”

After the July panel met, endocrinologist Dr. Clifford Rosen, a senior
scientist with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, told reporters
afterwards that “Nobody should be prescribing it. Anyone who went
to or heard this meeting would never prescribe rosiglitazone [Avandia]
under any circumstances.”

Clearly, physicians who prescribe the drug, linked to an unusually high
rate of heart attacks among patients taking it, risk not only their patients’
health and even their lives, but also their own reputations and careers.

Holding Doctors Responsible for Unnecessary Damages

There are already thousands of plaintiffs in lawsuits against Glaxo over
the ill effects they’ve allegedly suffered due to Avandia use. It’s
not unreasonable to expect that physicians might ultimately be held liable
for damages for continuing to prescribe the drug in the face of damning
research and rejection of the drug by their peers.

The first wave of negative publicity hit Glaxo and Avandia in 2007 when
the early FDA advisory panel called for warning labels on the drug and
more study of the link to heart attacks. That was followed in 2009 by
reports of evidence that Glaxo skewed evidence to hide Avandia hazardous
side effects.

After a Heart Attack on Avandia

Ohio users of Avandia who have suffered a heart attack, liver damage or
bone fractures should contact an Cleveland Medical Malpractice attorney familiar
with the dangers of the drug and the increased risk to patients posed
by doctors prescribing it today or in the past. A medical malpractice
lawyer can assess the facts of the case and help determine if litigation
is warranted.