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July 26, 2010: Glaxo Rival Paid Panelist

An article in Wall Street Journal published on July 20, 2010 reports that a doctor who voted against the diabetes drug Avandia at a recent Food and Drug Administration advisory panel served as a paid speaker for the maker of a rival drug. Abraham Thomas, head of the endocrinology and diabetes division at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, was one of the 12 panelists who called for removing Avandia from the market. Dr. Thomas was a speaker between September 2007 and September 2008 for Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which makes Actos, another diabetes drug. The company said that Dr. Thomas gave two talks as a member of its Diabetes Speakers' Bureau. Dr. Thomas confirmed speaking about Actos but stressed that the FDA's review of potential conflicts was thorough. The FDA didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about Dr. Thomas. This comes after Glaxo said it paid about $14,750 over several years to a doctor on the panel who was one of the only three panelists who wanted Avandia to stay on the market with no additional warnings or restrictions, and spoke out at the meeting in the drug's favor. FDA officials said they are trying to determine why Dr. Capuzzi's relationship with Glaxo was apparently not flagged during the financial vetting leading up to the panel meeting. The FDA panel voted 20-12 to keep Avandia on the market, though most of the 20 voted for extra restrictions on the drug and stronger warnings. The drug, which works by controlling blood-sugar levels in diabetics, has faced criticism after a series of studies suggests that it raises the risk of heart attacks. Glaxo says that Avandia is safe.

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