Avandia, the best-selling diabetes drug, has had the final nail driven into its coffin. It's just as dangerous as everyone feared, a new study has concluded, and can dramatically increase the risks of congestive heart failure and fatal heart attack.
Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been busy with a damage-limitation exercise since last spring when the first warnings about its safety were published. But despite rushing out findings that suggested the drug was safe, Avandia had already been labelled as 'GSK's Vioxx', the drug that was the subject of the largest civil action in history.
Sales, which were running at lb4.6m ($9.2m) a day, dropped away immediately, and they are unlikely to recover following the publication of a new study from the University of Toronto. It paints a bleak picture after studying the health profiles of 159,026 patients were who given the drug or another from the family of thiazolidinediones (TZDs), designed to treat type II diabetes. The researchers discovered that 19 per cent, or 30,265 people, died from congestive heart failure (CHD), while a further 7.9 per cent also had CHD and survived, and a similar number had a heart attack.
But although the researchers were looking at several TZD drugs, the risks were associated solely with Avandia.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007; 298: 2634-43).