The first federal trial over whether GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia caused a fatal heart attack started Monday morning in Philidelphia, reported the Am Law Litigation Daily. Although Glaxo settled some 10,000 Avandia cases last summer -- for an average of $46,000 -- as many as 50,000 more lurk in the wings.
The multi-district litigation pending in Philadelphia currently involves some 1,600 cases, but according to the Legal Intelligencer, around 50,000 more aren't filed yet. The company and the plaintiffs' attorneys have agreed to put them on hold for now. If plaintiffs lose many of the "bellwether" cases -- like the one starting today -- most of those potential suits never will be filed. If plaintiffs win, the floodgates will open. And then there are the state cases: California has the most, with 3,500.
The ultimate verdict in today's case will be a good sorting tool for two reasons. First, all plaintiffs will have to prove that Glaxo failed to warn doctors, and thus their patients, about Avandia's heart attack risks. You don't get win if you knowingly ran the risk. And then, plaintiffs will need to prove that Avandia -- and not something else -- caused the heart attacks.
Did Glaxo Provide Adequate Warning of Avandia's Risks?
Since this will be the first trial, everyone will get to see what evidence is deemed admissible and how the jury reacts to it. Lots of information has come out that makes Glaxo's handling of Avandia risk information questionable, at best, but as the list of undecided pretrial motions listed in Glaxo's brief shows (p. 11), it's not yet clear how much of it the jury will hear. (As of this morning, no order resolving those motions had been filed in the electronic case file.)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
GlaxoSmithKline's First Avandia Trial Underway - DailyFinance