Product Liability & Toxics Law News

GSK Off Hook in Avandia Heart Attack Suit, 3d Cir. Affirms

Dec. 31, 2018, 4:08 PM

GlaxoSmithKline LLC isn’t responsible for a man’s two heart attacks after he was prescribed its diabetes drug Avandia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled.

The court affirmed summary judgment for the drugmaker in a Dec. 28 unpublished opinion.

Most suits alleging Avandia increased the risk of heart attack have been resolved, through settlement or otherwise, though some are still proceeding.

John Siddoway and his wife, of Utah, alleged GSK’s failure to warn of an increased risk of heart attacks associated with Avandia affected his doctor’s decision to prescribe the drug. That decision led to his 2003 coronary problems, he said.

The parties agreed that Utah’s learned intermediary doctrine controls the negligence claim, the appeals court said. That puts the focus on the drugmaker’s duty to the doctor, not the patient.

Siddoway’s physician, Dr. Dennis Peterson, prescribed him Avandia in 2001 and 2002, according to the court. Peterson testified about what he would have done differently in 2003, had he known information published in 2007 that showed the increased risk.

He testified that he would have “thought twice” and would have been “much more thoughtful.” But that is too vague and speculative, and not clear about potentially different action, the appeals court said. And it doesn’t say anything about what Peterson would have done in 2001 and 2002, it said.

Also, by 2015, the Food and Drug Administration said Avandia wasn’t linked to heart attacks. Given that information, Peterson testified he would have made the same prescribing decision in 2001 and 2002, the court said.

Robert DeBry & Assocs. represented the plaintiffs.

Pepper Hamilton LLP represented GSK.

The case is In re Avandia Mktg., Sales Practices & Prods. Liab. Litig., 3d Cir., No. 18-1059, unpublished 12/28/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at mbarash@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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