The pharmaceutical corporation, GlaxoSmithKline, is finding itself under fire from at least two different fronts these days by both the FDA and the U.S. Senate. It appears that they have been supplying harmful medications to the general public without adequate warnings of the risk. The two drugs in question are Advair, a prescription drug to treat asthma, and Avandia, a prescription drug used to treat diabetes.
What do people think when the see a commercial on television that advertises an asthma medication with the warning that the ingredients in the medication could cause asthma related death? Do we even listen to what is being said? Maybe we should.
GlaxoSmithKline has been advertising their asthma medication called ADVAIR like that for more than 2 years.
Advair is joined by other asthma medications such as Symbacor in the FDA’s newest warning about the dangers possible with the use of such medications.
This type of asthma medication contain ingredients such as salmeterol and formoterol which are classified as long-acting beta-agonists, or LABAs, and are used in the treatment of moderate or severe asthma.
Commercials for such medications may give what amounts to a slight warning, or maybe even a near warning, but they fail to really let the public know what the true risk is. The long-acting beta-agonists such as formoterol are, in fact, a type of muscle relaxant (bronchial dilator) that can relax the bronchial tubes so much that a person may be unaware that they are having an asthma attack until they are literally gasping for breath. An incident such as this may well cause death because if the asthma attack is severe enough, there may not be time to get help if a person is already gasping for air and can not breathe.
Avandia, the diabetes medication, has caught the attention of the FDA because of it’s risk for heart attacks.
Avandia, also known as rosiglitazone is damaging to the heart, according to an FDA report due to be released Monday. According to one report by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the FDA, “rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,”
A Senate report released on Feb. 19, claims that GlaxoSmithKline knew of the possible risk for heart attack from use of Avandia years before the information ever became public..
In May 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine released a report that showed the risk of heart attacks for those using Avandia was 43% higher than for those taking other medications. On the question of whether or not to approve Avandia for use on the general public, the vote was 8 to 7, allowing the marketing by a one vote margin.
Sen. Max Baucus and Republican Charles Grassley, the FDA’s harshest critic in the Senate, also want to know why the FDA allowed a clinical trial of Avandia to continue even after they estimated that the medication had caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007.
GlaxoSmithKline has done their best to downplay all the negative attention and questions over their medications. They have rebuked any and all claims that Avandia causes any type of heart problem. It is noteworthy to mention that Glaxo’s nearest rival to Avandia , Actos, has shown no increase in heart attacks when taken to help control diabetes.
Lobbyists and those who pour money into political power have sold America’s health care to the point that even the most simple of medications have been developed with harmful ingredients that put us at greater risk. It appears to be very simple for a pharmaceutical corporation to hide the truth, put the general public at risk and get away with it.
Once again, this is a reminder that America needs to regulate big corporations, whether it be the banking industry, stock market or drug corporations. If there are not regulations in place to protect the public, the so called “free market” will always put their profit margin before the safety of the American public.