Gates Foundation official probed

Nov. 21, 2007 at 12:06 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate panel is examining claims a top official at the Gates Foundation tried to cover up a diabetes drug's potential side effects in his previous job.

Tadataka Yamada was head of research at SmithKline Beecham before becoming president of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. John Buse of the University of North Carolina said Yamada and other SmithKline executives tried to suppress information on potential side effects of the diabetes drug Avandia.

Both GlaxonSmithKline and Yamada have denied trying to keep the information hushed up. Yamada said some of the information Buse had reported at a medical conference was incorrect, and he called Buse's boss because he was an old friend.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put a "black box" warning on Avandia after the New England Journal of Medicine reported the drug can increase the risk of heart attacks 43 percent.

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