Miami, FL (May 2007) — The recent news about Avandia increasing the risk of heart attack and death due to heart disease and stroke comes from a look back at 42 published research studies in which Avandia had been tested in comparison with either a dummy drug to show that it lowered blood sugar effectively (in some studies) or compared to other diabetic medicines, including glyburide, glipizide, metformin, and insulin.
The new study added up all the people in these previous studies who during those studies had been recorded to have had a heart attack or who died from one. They then compared how many of them were in the group receiving Avandia versus those receiving either the dummy drug or other antidiabetic medicines to see if there was a difference in heart attack rates.
This kind of study is called a metanalysis, and is considered a rather weak way of testing whether a drug is harmful because none of the studies looked at were actually designed to compare the effect of Avandia versus other medicines on heart disease.
In addition most of these studies only lasted 6 months, the people tested varied greatly in how severe their disease was (some were recently diagnosed, some only had borderline diabetes, whereas others were more severe, requiring insulin, and in one study the participants did not even have diabetes).
Some of the patients had heart disease and others not, and we know little about how the research volunteers varied in the other medicines they were taking, some of which are known to protect against heart attack (like cholesterol and blood pressure lowering drugs).
What should you do if you are taking Avandia now?
If your current treatment regimen includes Avandia, please discuss with your physician and/or endocrinologist before making any changes to your prescribed plan.
Diabetes is a complex disease and its effective treatment requires that individual differences be taken into careful consideration.