Shortly after launching its blockbuster diabetic drug Avandia in the market in 1999, SmithKline Beecham's research labs began a study to find out whether the drug was safer for the heart than a competing pill, Actos, made by Japanese drug company Takeda.
The findings were something that SmithKline Beecham could not digest says a report by The New Yorlk Times, based on documents recently obtained by it that showed that Avandia posed significant heart risks.
Within a year of its internal research finding, US drug giant SmithKline Beecham merged with British drug giants Glaxo Wellcome in 2000 to form GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). (See: Glaxo Wellcome, SmithKline Beecham agree to merge) <http://www.domain-b.com/companies/companies_g/glaxo_sk/20000117glaxoskb_merger.html>
Although GSK is required in most cases by US and other country's law to post the research results on its website or submit them to drug regulators, the merged entity chose to ignore the law.
GSK then spent the next 10 years trying to cover up the findings as putting a ''safety risk'' tag to the drug would have resulted in $600 million in lost sales from 2002 to 2004 alone.
In May 2007, Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine and medical director at Cleveland Clinic, published his findings on Avavdia in The New England Journal of Medicine that suggested that the drug increased the risk of heart attacks in diabetic patients, the NYT report says.