GlaxoSmithKline, one of the largest drug manufacturers in the world, took a charge to cover the costs of product liability claims in January of 2011. The sheer size of the charge was expected to equal the quarterly profits of the company. The claims concern the drug Avandia, which was prescribed for the treatment of diabetes. This drug is not the first one that’s landed GlaxoSmithKline in hot water. They’re also the manufacturers of the drug Paxil, an antidepressant medication that has been associated with some truly disturbing side effects.
The number of lawsuits pending against GSK is astounding. There are over 10,000 claims in the US alone. This drug was associated with an increased risk of heart attack and was pulled from the market in Europe and is now only given under very restricted conditions in the United States. As is the case with many product liability claims involving pharmaceuticals, the people affected are found all over the world.
Doctors have come forward and claimed that GSK was aware of the dangers that this drug posed and did nothing about it. There have been similar claims made against the company involving Paxil, which advertising claimed was not habit-forming but which several litigants claimed most certainly was. Pharmaceutical companies are among the most well-connected, wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world, but they’re still liable to their customers when their products are defective, advertised incorrectly or when they’re manufactured in a way that is not safe.