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Heart Attack Risks May Kill Off Diabetes Drug Avandia

While the federal government’s Food and Drug Administration weighs its options on diabetes drug Avandia, doctors are increasingly abandoning the medication after a steady stream of research showing it increases risks of heart attacks, liver failure and fractures. Three years ago, doctors wrote more than 5.6 million prescriptions for Avandia; today’s number is down to one million.

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline isn’t ready to give up on the drug that has brought in billions of dollars in revenue. CNN reports that Glaxo is still pulling in $1 billion a year from Avandia, even with drastically reduced sales.

Lukewarm FDA Support

In July, an FDA advisory panel voted by a slim majority to allow Glaxo to continue selling the Type 2 diabetes medication introduced 11 years ago. But in early September, in the pages of the British Medical Journal, FDA researchers leveled accusations that the advisory panel had been stacked in favor of Glaxo and Avandia.

The question doctors face today is whether or not the drug Avandia is worth the risk to their patients. Though prescriptions are way down, there are still a million prescriptions being written – some would say a million prescriptions too many.

“Nobody Should be Prescribing It”

After the July panel met, endocrinologist Dr. Clifford Rosen, a senior scientist with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, told reporters afterwards that “Nobody should be prescribing it. Anyone who went to or heard this meeting would never prescribe rosiglitazone [Avandia] under any circumstances.”

Clearly, physicians who prescribe the drug, linked to an unusually high rate of heart attacks among patients taking it, risk not only their patients’ health and even their lives, but also their own reputations and careers.

Holding Doctors Responsible for Unnecessary Damages

There are already thousands of plaintiffs in lawsuits against Glaxo over the ill effects they’ve allegedly suffered due to Avandia use. It’s not unreasonable to expect that physicians might ultimately be held liable for damages for continuing to prescribe the drug in the face of damning research and rejection of the drug by their peers.

The first wave of negative publicity hit Glaxo and Avandia in 2007 when the early FDA advisory panel called for warning labels on the drug and more study of the link to heart attacks. That was followed in 2009 by reports of evidence that Glaxo skewed evidence to hide Avandia hazardous side effects.

After a Heart Attack on Avandia

Ohio users of Avandia who have suffered a heart attack, liver damage or bone fractures should contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney familiar with the dangers of the drug and the increased risk to patients posed by doctors prescribing it today or in the past. A medical malpractice lawyer can assess the facts of the case and help determine if litigation is warranted.

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