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July 26, 2010: Panelist Paid By Glaxo

On July 19th, 2010 an article in the Wall Street Journal reported that one of the panelists who voted in favor of the diabetes drug Avandia at a Food and Drug Administration advisory meeting the previous week is a paid speaker for the drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Dr. David Capuzzi was one of only three experts who wanted the drug to stay on the market with no additional warnings or restrictions. The panel voted 20-12 to keep Avandia on the market, though most of the members wanted stronger warnings. Dr. Capuzzi explained that he was worried that if Avandia was pulled of the market patients would assume the alernative, Actos, is safe. The FDA made a statement saying that it screens all the financial ties of advisory-committee members and is looking into the situation. FDA officials had stated before the meeting that they wanted to avoid any questions about conflicts of interest. Dr. Capuzzi said one reason for his vote was concern that another drug  that works similarly to Avandia, called Actos, might also have safety problems. Many panelists in favor wanted either tighter prescribing restrictions or more warnings about cardiovascular risks. Avandia was approved in 1999 as a medicine to lower blood sugar in diabetics but has garnered attention from the FDA after a series of studies linked the drug to an increased risk of heart attacks. Glaxo has said Avandia is  safe and should stay on the market. The committee members voted overwhelmingly that Actos poses fewer heart-attack risks than Avandia.

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