Avandia The Risk Is There

Thursday, July 15, 2010 - 9:12am

The controversial diabetes drug Avandia should stay on the market in some form according to a panel of experts commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration.

The panel voted Wednesday to recommend Avandia remain available, despite the fact that it can increase the risk for heart attack.

Avandia used to be one of the most popular diabetes drugs on the market, but a 2007 study linking the drug to an increased risk for heart attack and death caused sales to plummet.

"The leading cause of death among people with diabetes is cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, so we certainly don't want to be prescribing a medication that might contribute to that risk," explains endocrinologist Dr. Tracy Breen.

A black box warning was added to the drug label, but Avandia remained on the market and roughly two million Americans are still using the drug.

The new data presented at the meeting were contradictory, making a decision on the drug difficult.

Doctors are concerned the back and forth could shake the trust of their patients, no matter which drug they take.

"It's concerning because it undermines people's belief and comfort in terms of our credibility, not just pharmaceutical industry credibility, but our credibility as health professionals," says Dr. Breen.

The FDA will take the advisory panel's suggestion under consideration and issue a final ruling in the coming months.

12 of the 36 experts on the panel voted to remove Avandia from the market completely.

The rest split their votes between various options to keep it on the market with restrictions.
 

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