Last week, the Utah Attorney General filed a Medicaid Fraud Lawsuit in the Third District Court alleging that GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Avandia, defrauded the state of Utah by promoting itself as a successful diabetes treatment.
In this provocative claim, the Utah AG says that the state paid millions of dollars in Medicaid purchases and reimbursements for Avandia prescriptions– and because Glaxo failed to adequately disclose the risk of heart attacks from Avandia side effects, the state is entitled to reimbursement. The lawsuit seeks to reclaim $7.8 million from GlaxoSmithKline, which is the amount the state says it paid in Avandia purchases from January 1, 2002 through June 30, 2010.
The suit follows an announcement last month by GlaxoSmithKline that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating whether the drug maker knew Avandia increased the risk of heart attacks.
Avandia (also called rosiglitazone) was approved as a drug in the United States in 1998 to control blood sugar levels for diabetics. Recent studies have found a correlation between Avandia use and potential heart risks. Earlier this year, a Senate report accused GlaxoSmithKline of suppressing the risks of Avandia. The report claimed that the company intimidated scientists and withheld data. The company denies these allegations.
In September, the FDA stopped just short of an Avandia recall and determined that only patients who failed to control their diabetes through every other available medication should be given access to the medication. The decision came after an FDA advisory committee voted this summer to recommend that Avandia stay on the market, but with strict warnings and restrictions.
The complaint by the Utah Attorney General may be the first of several filed by states across the country. In addition, GlaxoSmithKline faces Avandia suits filed by individuals who allege that they suffered an injury as a result of the drug maker’s failure to adequately warn about the risk of heart problems.