A research studied published online last month in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), reported a strong correlation between who was paying a doctor and their opinions about whether Avandia (rosiglitazone) represents a serious danger to patients. This study follows reports that the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), intimidated doctors and used poorly-designed studies to hide risks of dangerous cardiovascular side effects. If true, the combined accusations point to a decades-long conspiracy involving GSK officials on at least two continents to sacrifice the lives of people in order to profit from a defective drug.
The most recent study was a retrospective review of over 200 published articles on Avandia, performed by independent reviewers. Reviewers classified each article as favorable, neutral, or unfavorable. Researchers then correlated the classification with the author’s source of funding. They found that 87% of doctors offering favorable views had potential conflicts of interest (although not all declared those conflicts), compared to only 20% of doctors who offered unfavorable opinions.
In response, a GSK spokesman said, in an email, “Of the 202 articles, only 10 were original scientific research. Many of the articles reviewed were opinion pieces — editorials, commentaries or letters. It is important to note that the authors’ conclusions do not impugn the validity of the scientific data.”
However, scientific data for dangerous drugs is often limited, perhaps intentionally more so for Avandia than others. The largest study to test the risk of cardiovascular side effects, designed and run by GSK-sponsored researchers, was found to have “limited statistical power” to either confirm or exclude cardiovascular risks. In the absence of hard scientific data, doctors look to the opinions of their peers about whether or not to prescribe a particular drug, opinions that GSK seems to have been able to essentially buy.
Although it is not yet certain, it seems that many pieces of evidence point to a deliberate attempt on the part of GSK to intimidate scientists, obscure scientific data, and flood the literature with favorable reviews of its potentially deadly drug. And the strategy worked, since in 2007 Avandia was GSK’s second-best-selling drug.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one due to Avandia or another dangerous drug, you deserve compensation for your loss and the drug company must be made to pay if it acted inappropriately. Please call or email the pharmaceutical injury lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack Co., LPA today for a free case evaluation.