Analysis Confirms Diabetes Drug May Harm the
THURSDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis confirms
that those who take the diabetes drug Avandia are more likely to
develop heart problems and die than those who take a similar type
of diabetes medication.
"The effect on public health may be considerable," the analysis authors wrote.
Avandia (rosiglitazone) helps control blood sugar levels in the
body, and is prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes. Studies
in recent years have differed about whether it boosts the risk of
heart disease and death.
In response to growing concerns over the drug's cardiovascular
effects, U.S. health officials in September restricted the use of
Avandia to patients with type 2 diabetes who cannot control their
disease on other medications.
In the new analysis, researchers looked at the results of 16
studies that involved 810,000 users of Avandia or Actos
(pioglitazone), a similar diabetes medication. The findings appear
online March 17 in the
The researchers found a "modest but statistically significant
increase" in the odds of certain heart conditions in those who took
Avandia. The risk of heart attack rose by 16 percent and increased
23 percent for congestive heart failure. Overall, mortality rates
rose 14 percent.
Avandia is a common drug, with about 3.8 million prescriptions a
year in the United States.
The analysis authors cautioned that Actos carries its own risks.
Like Avandia, it's been linked to a doubling of risk of fracture in
women. And researchers worry that it may slightly boost the risk of
"Patients should review this study with their physician to gain a better understanding of how their personal circumstances may or may not be reflected in the study, and talk to their physicians about the risks versus the benefit of taking the drug," said Dr. Debra Wertz, outcomes research manager for HealthCore Inc., the research subsidiary of the insurance company WellPoint.
Wertz co-authored a 2010 study that found no significant
differences in risk of heart attack, heart failure or death in
patients who took the two drugs.
"One thing to consider is that the HealthCore study evaluated a population that is commercially insured and potentially younger [most were under 65] and healthier" than the studies analyzed in the meta-analysis, Wertz noted.
For more about
diabetes, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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