New Avandia Heart Attack Study Finds Increased Risk of Death Among Patients Treated with Rosiglitazone

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The type 2 diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) increases the risk of heart failure and death more than another drug in the same class, Actos (pioglitazone), new Canadian research contends.

On August 19, 2009 Canadian researchers released the findings of a six-year study comparing heart attack risk between 39,736 patients ages 66 and older who were enrolled in the Ontario Public Drug Benefit Program and began taking Avandia or Actos from April 2002 to March 2008.

The results of the study were startling. During the six-year study, 6.9 percent of patients on Avandia died or were hospitalized for a heart attack or heart failure, compared with 5.3 percent of those on Actos.

Background of Past Avandia Heart Attack Studies

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Avandia has been the subject of controversy since 2007, when it was linked to an increased risk for heart attack and death, although those claims have become clouded as other studies have discounted that risk to some degree. But taken together, many believe that the drug should not be used, especially since there appears to be a safer choice.

“It is difficult for making a case for using rosiglitazone in anybody, because we have an alternative,” said lead researcher Dr. David Juurlink, division head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Previously, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a combined analysis of more than 40 studies that evaluated approximately 28,000 Avandia patients.  One of the studies showed that Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline, doubled the risks of heart failure and raised the risks of heart attack by 42 percent.

Other Avandia Side Effects

Below is a list of other serious, life-threatening side effects associated with Avandia.

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Blindness
  • Vision loss
  • Macular Edema
  • Bone Fractures
  • Death
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