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High court declines to hear Glaxo appeal


By Jonathan Block
Posted: April 15, 2013 - 4:00 pm ET
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday decided it will not hear an appeal brought by GlaxoSmithKline over whether insurance companies can sue the drugmaker for Medicare Advantage enrollees' medical expenses tied to the troubled diabetes drug Avandia.

Humana Health Plans, a division of Humana won a federal appeals court ruling last year that Medicare Advantage insurers, like the federal government's standard Medicare program, can sue companies if their products harmed enrollees and lead to additional health costs under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. Current federal law allows the government to collect double damages in such situations.

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Glaxo asked the Supreme Court to review the June 2012 ruling of the 3rd U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The case is GlaxoSmithKline v. Humana Medical Plans, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-690.

Avandia has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, prompting the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 to restrict the use of the drug. The drug reached peak sales of more than $3 billion in 2006.

In 2012, Glaxo pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $3 billion fine to the U.S. Justice Department for withholding data on two cardiovascular safety studies. On Friday, the FDA said it will hold a meeting in June to reassess Avandia's safety.

Follow Jonathan Block on Twitter: @MHjblock


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