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Diabetes drugs exhibit equal risk

A US-based study of 30,000 diabetics shows the same percentage risk of heart attack and heart failure associated with Avandia and Actos

A US-based study, which analysed prescribing data for approximately 30,000 patients with type 2 diabetes (average age 54), has found that the risk of heart attacks or death after taking the glucose-lowering diabetes drugs Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone) are about the same.

These latest findings contradict the conclusions of several previous studies that showed elevated cardiovascular risks associated with GSK's Avandia, but not for Actos by Takeda. It also supports the findings of some others; adding further to the ongoing debate and confusion surrounding the safety of the class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones.

In July 2010 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommended Avandia carry a second black-box warning of the cardiac dangers on its label. No such recommendation was made for Actos.

Yet, according to this latest study, published August 24 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome, the risk of a heart attack, heart failure or dying stayed in the vicinity of 4 per cent for those studied, over a period just short of three years, no matter which medication the patient was taking.

"Our study looked at a population of commercially insured patients so these potentially could represent healthier and younger patients," said study lead author Debra Wertz. Wertz is the outcomes research manager for HealthCore, the research subsidiary of the insurance company WellPoint, which funded the study.

25th August 2010

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