The popular diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), is prescribed to help people control their blood sugar. However, this drug has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death… and yet, astonishingly, it is still on the market.
It is astonishing because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been made aware of the risks, but decided (in a split vote) to allow GlaxoSmithKline to continue to sell this product. In 2008, global sales of medicines containing Avandia reached nearly $1.5 billion. Although sales have dropped since then, hundreds of thousands of people still take the drug.
Part of the controversy about Avandia was whether the heart problems were caused by Avandia, or by the entire class of medications, which also includes the drug Actos (pioglitazone). A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (online edition, June 28, 2010) adds another group of data to support withdrawing this medication.
The study, led by Dr. David J. Graham of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, looked at more than 225,000 Medicare patients who started taking either Avandia or Actos. Compared to people who took Actos, those who took Avandia had a 25% increased risk of heart failure, 27% increased risk of stroke, and a 14% increased risk of death.
These mean deaths and permanent physical harm that didn’t need to happen. And do you know what it would take to save lives? Even switching to a different drug would make a world of difference. According to an article published in February in the New York Times (“Research Ties Diabetes Drug to Heart Woes”), secret government reports say that:
“…if every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart.” [italics added]
That’s 6,000 heart attacks every year that could have been prevented by taking a different medication. But pharmaceutical companies can be persistent and persuasive. The drug remains on the market, and every month people are dying unnecessarily because they are taking a drug that is supposed to safe their lives. In the third quarter of 2009, 304 deaths were linked to Avandia. (And those are just the ones that were reported and linked.)
The conclusion any reader of the study must make is the same one scientists came to earlier (as reported in the New York Times article):
“Rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,” one report, by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the Food and Drug Administration, concludes. Both authors recommended that Avandia be withdrawn.
Yes, that’s the same Dr. David Graham who led the currently reported study.
So what will it take for the powers that be to finally take this drug off the market? Will this latest study be enough?
To be harmed by medication is always a tragedy… but to be harmed by medication that is known to be dangerous seems downright negligent. The drug injury lawyers of HensonFuerst are looking further into this and other research about Avandia, and we plan to use this information to protect our clients and help them get compensation for their damages.
If you believe you have been harmed by the drug Avandia and have questions about your legal options, feel free to contact the attorneys of HensonFuerst. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.
Journal of the American Medical Association. Early release article, posted June 28, 2010. JAMA. 2010;304(4):(doi:10.1001/jama.2010.920).