Diabetes drug increases heart attack risks, say experts

Monday, September 6, 2010

LONDON - Medical experts have urged a ban on Avandia, a drug taken by up to 100,000 diabetic patients in Britain, because it increases risks of heart attack.

The Commission on Human Medicines said the “risks of rosiglitazone (Avandia) outweigh its benefits” and called for prompt action.

Clinical pharmacologist Yoon Loke of the University of East Anglia estimated that the drug causes around 1,000 extra heart attacks a year in Britain, reports the Daily Mail.

Avandia was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2000 to help reduce blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, the form that usually strikes in middle and old ages, reports the British Medical Journal.

It became one of the best-selling global drugs, with sales of more than £1.5 billion. In Britain, doctors wrote out more than a million prescriptions for it last year at a cost of around £30 million.

The warning, which raises concerns about the way drugs are tested and regulated, comes in the wake of calls for its withdrawal by the committee responsible for drug safety in the UK, three months ago.

But despite the warning to the general practitioners to alert them, patients were not informed and thousands are still on the drug.

Experts stressed that patients should not stop taking medication without first seeing their doctor - but urged doctors to review the way they treated diabetes.

Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, said: “Extensive research showed the drug was safe and effective”.

Filed under: Diabetes Drugs, World

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