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Diabetes drug suspended over health fears

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The controversial diabetes drug Avandia, prescribed to more than 100,000 Britons, should be withdrawn over fears it increases the chances of heart attacks and strokes, a regulator has ruled.

The benefits offered by Avandia, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, no longer outweigh the risks it carries, said the European Medicines Agency’s committee on medicinal products for human use.

Marketing of the product must also stop, it added.

The chief executive of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Professor Kent Woods, said: “Patient safety is the top priority for the MHRA and we have been constantly monitoring the situation regarding rosiglitazone (Avandia).

“(The) suspension means that clinicians should review all patients currently on rosiglitazone and take appropriate action, according to the individual clinical situation, to change to another suitable treatment.”

Patients who received the drug already should have their treatment reviewed and changed if necessary, the agency said.

In a separate ruling, the US Food and Drug Administration has also warned against further use of Avandia. Patients in the US can now only be prescribed it if other medication is unable to control their diabetes.

Avandia was once the best-selling diabetes pill in the world but this changed after 2007 because research found it increased the risk of heart attacks.

GlaxoSmithKline said it believes the drug is still an important treatment.

Simon O’Neill, of health charity Diabetes UK, said: “We are recommending that people with diabetes currently taking Avandia get in touch with their healthcare team as a matter of urgency to discuss their treatment options.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • At the recent American Diabetes Association Science Conference in Orlando Florida Albert Einstein Medical College presented the results of two human trials using Biotivia Transmax in place of Avandia. Transmax, a purified form of the natural substance resveratrol which is found in grape skins, performed extraordinarily well in lowering blood glucose, improving glucose tolerance, increasing insulin sensitivity and enhancing mitochondrial function, all with no adverse effects or toxicity. It is time this safe and reasonably cheap natural compound be taken seriously by all diabetes 2 sufferers.

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