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Big Pharma gets another black eye--and deservedly so

Recent disclosures have documented how SmithKlineBeecham, the maker of Avandia, hid documentation of the drug's danger, while contemporaneously telling the government that it was aware of no data documenting its risks.  According to multiple media sources including the New York Times, in the fall of 1999, SKB started a study to compare Avandia's performance and safety with Actos, its primary competitor.  SKB soon learned that Actos was more effective and much safer:  Avandia substantially (and unnecessarily) increased the risk of heart attack among patients. 

Rather than divulging this risk information, SKB spent the next 11 years hiding the data and denying that it existed.  "Per Sr. Mgmt request, these data should not see the light of day to anyone outside of GSK [SKB's corporate successor]."  One wonders just how many preventable deaths occurred during that period.   The information ultimately came to light only because of the tenacity and courage of a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and government regulators who in 2007 belatedly required data disclosure.

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