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FOR DIABETES MEDICATION, BAD NEWS CONTINUES

Los Angeles Times

The diabetes drug Avandia, once the world's top-selling diabetes medication, took two more hits Monday with one new study linking it to an increased risk of heart attacks and a separate study linking it to an increased risk of heart failure and stroke. The research comes only weeks before a federal hearing to reconsider its fate.

The drug, also known by its generic name rosiglitazone, was approved in 1999 to help people with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. At the time, it was considered a safer alternative than existing diabetes drugs used instead of insulin.

Soon after approval, however, the drug was linked to an increased risk of heart failure and bone fractures. Worries about the drug's safety increased in 2007 when a meta-analysis, a pooling of previous studies, concluded that the drug increased the risk of heart attack.

One of the studies released Monday, a larger meta-analysis involving more than 35,500 patients, found Avandia raised the risk of heart attacks by 28 percent to 39 percent as compared with other diabetes medications. The study was published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The other new study, an observational study of 227,500 Medicare recipients published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found Avandia increased the risk of stroke by 27 percent, heart failure by 25 percent and death from any cause by 13 percent compared with another popular diabetes drug, Actos.

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