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U.K. Medical Journal Questions Avandia License

Followup on "After Avandia: Does the FDA Have a Drug Problem?"Ilene 

U.K. Medical Journal Questions Avandia License

BY JASON DOUGLAS AND STEN STOVALL, WSJ

LONDON—The British Medical Journal on Monday said GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s diabetes drug Avandia should never have been licensed and should be withdrawn from sale, a claim the company rejected.

An investigation by the journal found the U.K. Commission on Human Medicines in July advised the country’s drugs regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, to withdraw Avandia from sale because its risks outweigh its benefits.

The probe also found members of a European panel that reviewed the drug prior to its European Union-wide approval in 2000 had concerns about the long-term risks and benefits of Avandia, also known as rosiglitazone. The journal raised concerns about the quality of the data GlaxoSmithKline used to show Avandia didn’t lead to increased heart problems compared with other diabetes drugs.

Avandia was once Glaxo’s second-biggest drug, raking in about $3 billion a year. But its sales have plunged since a U.S. study linked it to heart attacks in 2007, and second-quarter revenue was only £152 million ($235 million) as patients defected to alternatives, such as Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Actos.

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