GlaxoSmithKline suggested that reports of liver failure associated with its diet drug Alli might be the fault of the patients, not the drug.
In a press release responding to the FDA's alert that it is probing 32 cases of liver damage associated with Alli, GSK said:
... Liver changes can have many causes. People who are overweight and obese are predisposed to liver-related disorders.GSK has previously shown an ambivalent side toward dieters. The company initially won praise for its plain-speaking about Alli's side effects. But after a change of management on the brand the company suggested that users might want to avoid becoming the "fat friend."
In the recent release, GSK defended its products in robust language:
... we want people to know that there is no evidence that alli causes liver damage.
... There is ... no obvious biological mechanism to suggest liver damage can occur with alli.GSK's logic is that because the drug physically blocks fat from being absorbed rather than acting chemically in the metabolism, Alli can have little effect on the liver. This may well be true.
But what are the effects on a human liver when fat digesting/transporting enzymes are pouring into the gut only to find their targets blocked by Alli? I suspect the plaintiffs lawyers will be eager to find out.
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