We're #1

The SE Texas Record Jun. 23, 2007, 4:18am

That was fast.

Last week, the U.S. District Court in Marshall saw America's very first lawsuit filed over the diabetes drug Avandia, proving once again that nobody has a quicker draw the Texas plaintiff's bar.

Dallas attorney Stephen Drinnon somehow managed to find a client whose family member died on the very same day that a highly-publicized study of the drug appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It suggested Avandia, which helps sufferers of Type 2 diabetes better use insulin, might also increase one's risk of a heart attack.

The operative word here is "might," and the study's general conclusion is old news. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which first approved Avandia in 1999, has known about possible increased heart attack risk associated with the drug for several years. But the evidence is hardly conclusive; other studies-- much larger and more comprehensive than the one published in the NEJM-- have shown no increased risk. The NEJM itself even admitted that "the possibility that the findings were due to chance cannot be excluded."

Not that any of this matters a lick to the lawyers hoping to ride the negative publicity wave and cash in.

Mr. Drinnon himself basically recounted the NEJM study as established fact in his complaint. It charged Avandia maker GlaxoSmithKline with "knowing that its drug was unreasonably dangerous" yet still subjecting patients to a "marketing assault."

The latter phrase is ironic, as it more accurately describes the ravenous display of victim-hunting by plaintiff's lawyers, who have been advertising like mad, fueling the hysteria while they troll on the trend for plaintiffs. Just Google "Avandia" for a taste of the lowest form of ambulance-chasing in the digital age.

Such panic peddling doesn't come without a cost.

Now inundated with scare ads, diabetes sufferers are starting to abandon their medication with great consequence. Some 5 percent of all U.S. adults have the disease, which can cause blindness, kidney damage and even death when untreated.

Who will get the blame for that? We'll tell you who it won't be...

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