GSK settles more Avandia litigation for $250M

GlaxoSmithKline has settled another batch of Avandia litigation. The drugmaker reportedly agreed to pay $250 million to wrap up 5,500 suits, an average of $46,000 per plaintiff. That's exactly the same amount reported in the 10,000 suit settlement announced last July, but $40,000 per plaintiff less than a previous deal that apportioned $60 million among 700 lawsuits.

As Bloomberg reports, the latest settlement includes a lawsuit that had been scheduled for trial last week--until GSK agreed to settle at the eleventh hour. And it comes on the heels of a big legal charge--$3.4 billion--that GSK took against 2010 profits, in part to cover new Avandia claims. GSK has been facing claims that the diabetes drug, now withdrawn in the EU and restricted in the U.S., caused heart attacks and other cardiovascular troubles.

The individual settlement amounts seem to suggest that plaintiffs haven't successfully demonstrated their heart attacks were indeed caused by Avandia. "An average of $46,000 per case is a modest price to pay, in the grand scheme of things," UBS analyst Gbola Amusa told Bloomberg. "If Avandia definitively had caused heart attacks, Glaxo would have been forced to pay" as much as $1 million a case, he said.

Meanwhile, GSK updated Avandia's label to include safety restrictions ordered by the FDA last fall. After a review of data linking the drug to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, the agency decided to severely limit its use. The new label warns doctors and patients that Avandia should only be used after other diabetes treatments have failed, the company said.

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