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Avandia prescriptions drop

GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) troubles with Avandia have led to a reduction in the number of patients it is being prescribed to, according to new figures.

GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) troubles with Avandia have led to a reduction in the number of patients it is being prescribed to, according to new figures.

New research from TNS Healthcare, DiabetesDynamics USA, shows that between July and September 2007 nearly 70 per cent of changes in Avandia prescribing were the result of doctors switching patients to another therapy.

The number of withdrawals is also accelerating, with as many withdrawals in Q3 2007 as in Q1 and Q2 combined.

According to the research, doctors are switching patients because of reports that Avandia is linked to increased cardiovascular risks.

"Clearly, reports of Avandia being linked to increased cardiovascular risk are having a huge impact on prescribing decisions," said Philip O'Hagan, international client services director for TNS Healthcare.

"The market upheaval is likely to continue and grow, as negative news hits about other diabetes drugs, such as the recent withdrawal of Exubera and concerns over Byetta's potential link to acute pancreatitis," O'Hagan concluded.

During the first half of 2007, there were no cases of switching because of reports of increased risk of cardiac problems, though there were the first indication that publicity about side effects was beginning to have an effect with 20 per cent of doctor consultations resulted in some kind of therapy change.

From January through June, 84 per cent of those prescribing changes were positive - doctors starting new patients on Avandia, adding it to existing regimens or switching patients to Avandia from other therapies.

However, from July onwards, most of Avandia changes were made by doctors taking patients off the drug, with the risk of cardiac problems now the reason for 20% of Avandia withdrawals.

GSK has had many problems with Avandia in 2007 and a black box warning has been added warning of an increased risk of heart failure.

Concerns over Avandia were first raised in May 2007 when the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published research claiming Avandia could increase the risk of heart attacks.

30th September 2008

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