GSK resolves 20K more Avandia lawsuits, lawyer says

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has reached a deal to settle another 20,000 lawsuits over its diabetes drug Avandia, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told Bloomberg. The settlement came out of court-ordered mediation, attorney Paul Kiesel said, and included one case that had been set for trial in a state court in Los Angeles.

The Avandia litigation has been dragging on for years. Waves of new suits were filed after studies linked the drug to risks of heart attack and stroke and again after U.S. regulators decided to tightly restrict its use. (European regulators pulled Avandia off the market at the same time.) As Bloomberg notes, the company has already agreed to pay $700 million to wrap up 15,000 patient claims that Avandia caused their heart attacks and strokes.

The latest settlements "are covered by existing provisions and those payments will be funded through existing cash resources," GSK spokeswoman Bernadette King told the news service. Last January, the company said it would set aside $3.4 billion to cover the Avandia litigation and provide for settlements in U.S. government probes of its marketing practices. That legal provision came on top of a $2.4 billion Avandia-related legal charge taken in July 2010.

- read the Bloomberg story