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Avandia Raises Heart Failure Risk More Than Actos
Date:8/18/2009

Diabetes drug shouldn't be used when there's a safer alternative, study says

TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The type 2 diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) increases the risk of heart failure and death more than another drug in the same class, Actos (pioglitazone), new Canadian research contends.

Avandia has been the subject of controversy since 2007, when it was linked to an increased risk for heart attack and death, although those claims have become clouded as other studies have discounted that risk to some degree. But taken together, many believe that the drug should not be used, especially since there appears to be a safer choice.

"It is difficult for making a case for using rosiglitazone in anybody, because we have an alternative," said lead researcher Dr. David Juurlink, division head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

In 2007, Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, published a study that found Avandia showed a 43 percent greater risk of heart attack among diabetes patients, and he remains convinced that the drug should not be used.

"I agree with the authors' conclusions," Nissen said. "Rosiglitazone should not be used in patients with diabetes. Pioglitazone is a safer alternative."

There is increasing evidence that Actos is safer than Avandia, Juurlink said. "Not a single study has suggested that pioglitazone might be less safe than rosiglitazone," he said. "And rosiglitazone doesn't have a single advantage -- not even a theoretical one."

Both Avandia and Actos belong to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones, which are used widely to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. In addition to an increased risk for heart failure, both drugs can also cause side effects that include weight gain and fluid retention. Both medications carry a U.S. Food and
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