GlaxoSmithKine has settled the first case in the USA to be brought to trial concerning claims that the firm’s diabetes drug Avandia caused heart attacks and strokes.

A spokeswoman for the company told PharmaTimes World News that the Avandia (rosiglitazone) case that was scheduled for the first trial in state court in Philadelphia (due to begin yesterday) has indeed been settled. She noted that the next case scheduled for trial is in that court and is scheduled for October, noting that GSK “has not settled the multi-district litigation pending in federal court.”

The company noted that the terms of any such settlements are confidential “and all numbers in the public domain at the moment are speculation”. It has been reported in some quarters that around 5,000 damages claims were consolidated in the Philadelphia case.

Earlier this month, it was reported that GSK agreed to pay around $60 million to settle some 700 lawsuits, figures which the company has not confirmed. However Reuters quotes Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Clark as saying that those cases plus the Philadelphia settlement implies that close to half of the Avandia cases have now been settled “and should ease some fears about Vioxx-type liabilities”. This is a reference to Merck & Co’s $4.85 billion settlement a couple of years ago over claims that its arthritis pain drug rofecoxib significantly increased the risk of heart attack.

The Avandia franchise brought in £169 million, down 10%, in the first quarter and GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said when the figures were announced that “the allegations made by some of our critics that we acted improperly around this medicine are unfounded”. A US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will evaluate Avandia’s safety profile in July.