THEIR VIEW: Glaxo settlement can restore confidence in system

By THE BELL LAW FIRM

West Virginia is one six states to opt out of a $90 million diabetes drug settlement with GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the U.K.'s biggest drug manufacturer, according to a report by Bloomberg.com.

It is not clear what West Virginia's plans are regarding the possibility of a separate settlement with Glaxo over the dangerous drug.

The settlement resolves a suit by 37 states attorneys general against Glaxo alleging that the company misled consumers about the safety of Avandia. Glaxo has been widely criticized for downplaying the possibility that the drug could cause heart attacks and strokes.

The settlement does not alter agreements or litigation by patients who have been harmed by the medication.

Glaxo has already paid out more than $3 billion over the way it peddled Avandia and other drugs in the media, as well as in litigation brought by patients.

"This settlement, which is covered by existing provisions, marks an important step in resolving long-standing legal matters," a Glaxo spokesperson said in a written statement.

Some of those legal matters have been fought over the past decade. This past July, Glaxo agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay $3 billion in settlements over its improper reporting of the drug's dangers indicated by data from clinical studies.

In addition, the company paid over $700 million to settle claims made by consumers that the drug caused strokes and heart attacks.

The settlement with the states forces the company to change the way it reports safety findings from studies.

This kind of news can help restore confidence in the system. It won't stop all drug companies from bending and breaking rules designed to protect consumers, but it might make some of them reassess their actions and look at how much damage can be done to their bottom lines by rushing products to market.

The Bell Law Firm is a Charleston personal injury firm founded by Harry Bell.

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