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Update on the Avandia/Actos Saga

A Colorado Business Litigation Lawyer Blog posted August 18, 2010 reported on the SmithKline study that clearly showed that Avandia (a diabetes drug) had a significantly higher heart attack and death risk than its competitor drug Actos.
Along comes a new study funded by WellPoint, Inc. that claims to show that the increased risk of heart problems linked to either drug is exactly the same at 4%. This latest study reported on subjects whose age averaged 54 years, while the earlier study’s subjects averaged 74.4 years young (a politically correct word). Some scientific observers commented that the age difference may have skewed the WellPoint results, since younger persons would likely be in better overall health than older persons.
One diabetes researcher from Australia suggested that it appears that both drugs may be risky, since the 4% heart attack and death increase is “pretty high” given the short study periods.
The FDA is expected to make a decision on whether Avandia should be taken off the market or perhaps change its warnings to reflect the risks involved. It is unclear (a word used by journalists when they don’t have the answer) when the decision will be made. Given the fact that our government sometimes (almost always) moves at less than a snail’s pace, and given the fact of the new, conflicting study results, we should not hold our collective breath.
While we wait, let’s think about the dilemma our prescribing doctors have until the FDA acts.