The Wall Street Journal reported on January 14 that internal emails from GlaxoSmithKline’s scientists show that at the time that Glaxo was publically dismissing the notion that its diabetes drug, Avandia, posed an increased risk of heart attacks, its own scientists expressed concerns that Glaxo’s own data was showing the same thing.
"The numbers are the numbers, the analysis is very similar to our own", wrote Glaxo’s senior consultant in an email days before a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This same scientist opined that while Glaxo couldn’t "undermine" the information contained in the NEJM, it might find a way to explain them.
The study published in 2007 by the NEJM found that Avandia increased the risk of heart attacks by 43%. As a result, the FDA called for a Black Box Warning (the strictest warning available) on Avandia’s label. Prior to that, Glaxo upgraded Avandia’s label over a dozen times, but despite that, Avandia’s sales rose to an all-time high in 2006.