* UK firm starts court proceedings in first 4 Avandia cases
* Follows settlement related to drug's heart risks in U.S.
* GSK says it acted responsibly in management of Avandia
LONDON, Jan 30 British families seeking
compensation for damage caused by GlaxoSmithKline's
now-withdrawn diabetes drug Avandia face a lengthy court battle,
despite the company agreeing to settle similar U.S. cases.
Manchester-based law firm Express Solicitors said on
Wednesday it had commenced high court proceedings in four cases
against GSK over the way it developed and marketed Avandia.
The law firm, which has a further 15 cases on its books,
said it believed it was the first to commence proceedings
against the drugmaker over Avandia in British courts.
European authorities decided to pull Avandia from the market
in September 2010 after it was linked to increased heart risks.
It is still approved for a limited number of patients in the
In the wake of the safety scandal, GSK paid hundreds of
millions of dollars to settle litigation over Avandia in the
In Britain, however, where the legal system has historically
seen smaller compensation payments, it is planning a fight.
Express said GSK had indicated to the court it was ready to
spend 600,000 pounds ($945,000) defending one of the cases,
despite the fact the actual claim was worth a fraction of this
"Even though a settlement was reached in the U.S. to settle
lawsuits, it seems GSK wishes to put up a fight in the UK as
indicated in correspondence pre-proceedings," Express lawyer
Daniel Slade said.
Avandia was first introduced into Britain in 2000 for people
with type 2 diabetes who no longer responded adequately to older
diabetes medicines. Express said many thousands of patients took
the drug and many families could be eligible for compensation
for death or harm caused to a relative.
"We have every sympathy for people with health complications
associated with diabetes and those who care for them.
Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on individual legal
cases," a GSK spokesman said.
"We continue to believe that the company acted appropriately
and responsibly in its management of Avandia."