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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Concern Over Avandia Continues

March 31, 2009. By Gordon Gibb

Washington, DC: Public Citizen wants it gone, and doctors are continuing to switch their Type 2 diabetes patients to an alternate form of medication. But Avandia is still out there, and still a concern for Avandia heart attack. Curiously, there has never been an Avandia recall, even though heart attacks still continue to be a concern.

A massive study is currently underway to further scrutinize Avandia, an attempt to answer once and for all if the benefits of Avandia do, indeed outweigh the risks. However, the results of the study won't be known for years. One has to wonder if the manufacturer has undertaken the study primarily as a stalling tactic to delay an eventual, and conclusive decision as to the future of Avandia.

In the meantime the evidence continues to mount. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Harvard Medical School, elderly people with diabetes who took Avandia (rosiglitazone) were more likely to develop congestive heart failure and die, than people who took Actos (pioglitazone).

A database of Medicare patients was used to track 28,361 patients over a time span of 5 years. Half of the group were given pioglitazone, while the other half were given rosiglitazone (Avandia.) At the end of the day it was determined that death rates were 15 percent higher in Avandia patients, than those who were prescribed Actos.

"Rosiglitazone was associated with greater mortality," says Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and an author of the observational study.

Both the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, and the American Diabetes Association have long since booted Avandia off their lists of recommended treatments for Type 2 diabetes. Doctors continue to switch their patients away from Avandia to a safer alternative. And Public Citizen continues to rail against GlaxoSmithKline and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with regard to a call to ban the drug outright, citing concern over liver failure, vision impairment, and various other serious side effects beyond heart issues.

Indeed, sales of Avandia continue to fall. But the drug continues on the market, and the manufacturer continues to study it like a stubborn dog reluctant to let go of a bone long beyond its nourishment value.

Meanwhile, the lawsuits continue. One speculates that the revenue for Avandia, while declining, must outweigh the costs of litigation—for now. If and when the pendulum ever swings the other way, it would be interesting to see how GlaxoSmithKline responds. For now, Avandia is still available and still considered by many to be a huge risk.

If you have had any difficulty with Avandia that has left you with serious health issues such as Avandia heart attack, please contact a qualified Avandia and heart attack attorney. After all, health care in this country is not cheap. If your health has been compromised at the hands of Avandia and in the absence of an Avandia recall, it would serve you well to seek compensation.

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