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US: GlaxoSmithKline could face $6bn risk over diabetes drug Avandia

Date: 6 Mar 2010

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Following biting criticism of its conduct by the Senate finance committee, GlaxoSmithKline is facing a possible flood of lawsuits - as many as 13,000 - with a potential combined liability of $6bn.

GSK has released a statement rebutting the Senate committee's conclusions which, it said, were not "accurate, balanced or complete" with glaring omissions and distortions.

The committee alleged that the company had waited for years before alerting the public to the risk of serious side effects linked to the use of Avandia. It also suggested that executives had tried to intimidate physicians into misrepresenting findings in a way that would be more favourable to the drug.

Whether the liabilities are realised or not, GSK has already taken a major hit over the controversy around the product. Uncertainty over its side effects have led to it dropping from its sales peak in 2006 of $3bn - when it was anticipated to continue a skyrocketing rise - to under half that level in 2009.

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