Diabetes Drugs Avandia and Actos Raise Heart Attack Risks

By January 8, 2008Drug Safety

The diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos significantly increase the odds of suffering a heart attack, congestive heart failure and death for older diabetic patients according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Both drugs, known as thiazolidinediones, or TZDs, increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Avandia is made by GlaxoSmithKline. Takeda Pharmaceutical North American Inc. is the maker of Actos. Both drugs carry the Food and Drug Administration’s black box warning about heart failure. This past summer, Avandia made headlines after an FDA panel launched an inquiry into the drug’s safety.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the December study found that patients over 65 who took TZDs had a 60 percent increased risk of heart failure compared with patients prescribed oral hypoglycemic drugs. The patients treated with TZDs had a 40 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 29 percent increased risk of dying.
In a statement, the study’s leader, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services in Toronto, said the risks were predominantly among those taking Avandia.
Even though demand for Avandia dropped after a spate of studies linked it to increased heart attacks and death, its sales figures were still staggering. Avandia recorded over $3 billion in worldwide sales last year. Actos raked in more than $2 billion, the Chicago Tribune reports.
But the sales represent more than profits. They represent people with diabetes who were looking for a way to control their disease and enhance their quality of life. Unfortunately, this new study confirms that these new diabetes drugs that diabetics had hoped would help may them may end up costing them their lives.