Israeli Court Awards Highest-Ever Compensation in Class-Action Suit against Drug Company

A settlement was recently reached between an Israeli diabetes patient and GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Avandia, in which an award of NIS 12.1 million was granted-the largest in Israeli history. The drug, which was approved for treatment in 1999, was once one of the West’s most popular in diabetes treatment but has since become associated with a number of serious risks, including, most notably, cardiac failure. The award will reportedly be used to fund a new treatment program for diabetics.

In the suit, the diabetic alleged that GSK had concealed information from the public that showed the drug was linked to an increase in the risk of dying from a heart attack. Avandia is included in the range of health services covered by Israel’s HMOs as a pre-treatment, and the Israel Diabetes Association estimates that about 30,000 Israeli diabetics have been given the drug. However, it says that the number has decreased significantly since the risks have started to become more widely-known.

At least two reports, by the New England Journal of Medicine and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, have prompted regulators to reassess the safety of Avandia. The Israeli filed suit in July 2007 in Tel Aviv District Court, and it was later recognized as class-action. The attorneys representing the man essentially argued that GSK hid the drug’s risks despite having evidence of them as early as 2002.

The arrangement is now being publicized with the hope that anyone who took the drug between 1999 and 2000 and suffered medical problems or financial harm will come forward and share his or her story. The settlement will require the approval of the attorney general, which is expected sometime after objections are heard. GSK has said it “hopes the programs will provide significant support to patients and medical staff.”

Diabetes patient gets highest-ever compensation in class-action suit against Israeli drug company, Haaretz, July 2, 2012

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