ProPublica, the well-respected organization which specializes in exposing frauds in the United States, has published on line a major expose on Advair, the inhalant used for asthma attacks.
Garth, “Overuse, Safety Questions Cloud Advair’s Ascent to Asthma Blockbuster,” 5/19/15.
They report what they call an excessive death rate in users, and suggest that law suits brought because a user suddenly died are being settled by the manufacturer to avoid having to disclose some secret in-house memos.
Advair is a combination drug, salmeterol and a corticosteroid. It has been a block buster drug for GlaxoSmithKline-$80 billion in sales cumulatively, according to ProPublica. While it is intended for persons with moderate to severe asthma attacks, a good portion of its sales is for persons with only minor asthma problems. Some states have tried to restrict the use of Advair in Medicaid patients.
ProPublica reports on a civil fraud action brought by the United States against Glaxo, which was filed under seal. The suit claimed that Glaxo was marketing Advair unlawfully, exposing patients to “significant safety risks,” according to ProPublica. The lawsuit asserted that the drug was being misused between 50 and 90% of the time, due the way in which it was marketed. The report says that to settle these claims, Glaxo paid $700 million.
While the article itself does not list specific medical reasons for the sudden deaths in Advair users, it is clear from the research it cites that these are not just random deaths due to the underlying asthma condition. The article also documents the foot dragging on the part of Glaxo is doing follow-up studies.