SmithKline defends its new diabetes drug

SMITHKLINE BEECHAM has sent a letter to US doctors in a bid to quash rumours surrounding its new Avandia drug, a treatment for type II diabetes widely hailed as the company's blockbuster drug.

"We have sent a letter to a small group of fairly technical doctors basically saying there's misinformation around," said a spokeswoman for the company. "We send letters to doctors all the time keeping them informed about our products."

The company declined to give details of the letter, said to cite a case in which a patient taking Avandia died of liver failure.

The spokeswoman said: "Rumours of this nature began circulating in the US prior to the launch of Avandia. We have received no reports of deaths which we believe are attributable to Avandia."

Analysts dismissed the notion Avandia was to blame for the alleged fatality. One said: "There's no reason to suppose it wasn't because of factors isolated from Avandia."

The market for type II diabetes treatments is becoming more competitive. Avandia is a replacement for US-based Warner-Lambert's drug Rezulin, whose application was limited after it was linked to liver toxicity in around one in 50,000 patients.

Since its launch in June, there have been 215,000 Avandia prescriptions. New prescriptions last week topped 6,000 and are expected to overtake Rezulin within weeks. Actos, a rival manufactured by Eli Lilly, the US pharmaceuticals group, came to the market in July. Its prescriptions in its fourth week were just 500. Lehman Brothers expects Avandia and Actos to have sales of $1.8bn and $2bn respectively in 2004/5.

SmithKline shares closed down 21.5p at 789p yesterday, having earlier fallen to 767p. Rumours swept the market that the US Food and Drug Association was preparing a note to doctors about Avandia. SmithKline said there had been no "dear doctor" letter from the FDA.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - City, London

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss