The retrospective study of 159,026 patients aged over 66 during a four year period showed rosiglitazone increased the risk of congestive heart failure by 60%, myocardial infarction by 40% and death by 29% compared with other oral hypoglycaemic agent combination therapies.
It also found that the risks did not occur in other thiazolidinediones, the group of drugs that rosiglitazone belongs to, which are used to treat type two diabetes.
In October, the European Medicines Agency acknowledged earlier reports that rosiglitazone and a similar drug, pioglitazone, increase the risk of MI but concluded that their benefits outweighed their hazards.
GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures rosiglitazone under the trade name Avandia, hit back at the study.
A spokesperson said: ‘As the authors state, patients on TZDs in their analysis may represent an older, select group of patients with advanced diabetes and therefore higher baseline risk for cardiovascular disease.
‘When used in the appropriate patient, it [rosiglitazone] is an important treatment option for health-care professionals managing the chronic and life threatening disease of diabetes.’
Journal of the American Medical Association (2007) 298: 2634-2643