Commonly Used Diabetes Pill Increases the Risk of Heart Attacks and Possibly Death

A widely used diabetes pill raises the risk of heart attacks and possibly death, according to a scientific analysis that reveals what some experts are calling another Vioxx-like example of the government failing to protect the public from an unsafe drug. More than 6 million people worldwide have taken the drug, sold as Avandia and Avandamet, since it came on the market eight years ago to help control blood sugar in people with the most common form of diabetes. About 1 million Americans use Avandia on the daily basis.

Avandia or Rosiglitazone is an anti-diabetic drug in the thiazolidinedione class of drugs. It is marketed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline as a stand-alone drug Avandia and in combination with metformin (Avandamet) or with glimepiride (Avandaryl). Annual sales peaked at approx U.S. $4 Billion in 2008. A press release by GlaxoSmithKline in February 2007 noted that there is a greater incidence of fractures of the upper arms, hands and feet in female diabetics given rosiglitazone compared with those given metformin or glyburide.

The diabetes drug Avandia can significantly increase a patient’s risk of heart attack according to an analysis in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Avandia, a widely used but controversial drug used to treat diabetes, increased users’ risk of heart attacks by 42 percent and doubled their risk of heart failure, researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have found. The study will appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For the study, researchers looked at four clinical trials that enrolled more than 14,000 patients for at least a year.