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Last updateSun, 06 Nov 2016 10am

Back You are here: Home Health Health Health Products Heart failure claims over diabetes drugs

Heart failure claims over diabetes drugs

 An article in the US journal Diabetes Care says there has been a high incidence of heart failure associated with both drugs. The article summarises research done at the University of East Anglia, working with Wake Forest University in North Carolina. The scientists studied 78,000 people taking the drugs, some in clinical trials.

Glitazone drugs are prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes. They tend to be given to overweight patients.

The US Food and Drug Administration is to decide the future of Avandia there at a meeting in Washington today. Sales of the drug, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), fell sharply in the US after an article in the New England Journal of Medicine which found the drug increased cardiovascular problems.

GSK strongly contested the findings of the study.

The European Medicines Agency, in a statement last May, said it was monitoring drugs containing rosiglitazone. In the meantime patients should continue to take the medication, while keeping in contact with their doctors.

The EMEA noted that some of the heart problems had occurred in patients taking forms of the drug not sold in the European Union or adhering to EU regulations.

 The Irish Medicines Board published the EMEA note on its website. It issued a statement to pointing out that patients vulnerable to cardiac disease had always been warned to  be careful with Avandia and Actos.

"In Ireland and the EU, both Avandia and Actos are contraindicated in patients with cardiac failure or a history of cardiac failure (NYHA stages I to IV), and this contraindication has been in place since the products were first authorised in  2000," the IMB said. 

Actos is made by the US-based Takeda pharmaceuticals company. Previous studies found that it reduced stroke and heart attacks in diabetes 2 patients.

Matt Widdowson, registrar in the endocrinology clinic at Tallaght hospital, said caution was being exercised in the prescribing of Avandia. “It has to be said that the studies so far are not conclusive, but we are watching the situation, and are not starting any new patients off on Avandia,” Dr Widdowson said.

In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has endorsed the drug throughout the National Health Service, but the Diabetes Care article urges it to think again.

Matt Hunt, science information manager at the support organisation Diabetes UK, said the glitazone class of drugs were not currently recommended for people with any history of heart problems.

The US Food and Drug Administration said GSK has provided it with the results of 42 other studies into Avandia. An estimated 16 million Americans have taken the drugs since they were launched around seven years ago.