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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Doctor Says Avandia Maker Intimidated Him

Nothing to hide eh Glaxo?

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 7, 2007

A prominent doctor who sounded an early alarm about a widely used diabetes drug testified yesterday that he was intimidated by the manufacturer when he raised concerns about the drug's safety.

John B. Buse of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the incoming president of the American Diabetes Association, told a congressional hearing that officials at SmithKline Beecham began pressuring him in 1999 after he questioned whether Avandia might cause heart problems.

Buse said company officials considered his actions "scurrilous" and implied that he might be held accountable for a $4 billion drop in the drug firm's stock.

"I was characterized as a liar and I was characterized as being for sale," Buse told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which released a letter that he wrote in response

"Please call off the dogs. I cannot remain civilized much longer under this kind of heat," Buse wrote.

Moncef Slaoui of GlaxoSmithKline, the company's new name after a merger, expressed regret about the episode, attributing it to the "passion" of officials at the time.

"I probably would not have done it the same way," Slaoui said. "We regret Dr. Buse felt pressured."

But Slaoui defended the drug's safety, saying numerous studies have shown no increased risk of heart attack.

"The overall safety of Avandia is comparable to other available oral anti-diabetes medicines," he said.


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