Diabetics advised to continue using controversial drug

A SUPPORT group for diabetes patients has advised people with the disease to keep taking a controversial popular drug despite concerns it can increase the risk of heart attacks.

The Diabetes Federation of Ireland warned of “the hype” which was frightening patients surrounding the use of the type-2 diabetes drug called Avandia.

Irish medicine regulators said they are reviewing the drug’s use and a British safety body has called for its withdrawal.

Avandia, whose chemical name is rosiglitazone, was also the subject of a BBC Panorama programme last night which raised concerns about the drug’s use.

But the Diabetes Federation of Ireland has advised people with the condition here to keep taking the medicine while the review – expected to be completed this month – is ongoing.

Federation health promotion manager Anna Clarke said diabetic patients should ensure they get blood tests every six months.

She added: “Our advice is that people who are on it at the moment, should continue to do so. Avandia is a new treatment on the market. These reviews are constant. The licensing is also reviewed based on the results of more statistics coming in.”

“There’s no point getting alarmed at the moment,” she added.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has confirmed that it is involved in a Europe-wide review of Avandia, through its role in the European Medicines Agency.

The IMB added: “The IMB has written to healthcare professionals informing them of the review and to reinforce existing recommendations regarding the use of rosiglitazone pending the outcome.”

Rosiglitazone, which is manufactured by Glaxo SmithKline (GSK), was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2000 to help lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

GSK has said its “extensive research” has shown the drug was “safe and effective when prescribed appropriately”.

GSK said yesterday that only a relatively small number of Irish patients were using the drug.

The company added: “The European and US medicines regulatory authorities are currently reviewing the benefit risk profile of Avandia based on the totality of the data.

“GSK acknowledges the efforts of these independent bodies to apply scientific rigour to enhance understanding of the benefit-risk profile of our medicine and we will continue to work with regulatory authorities worldwide in the best interest of patients.”


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