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Diabetes Drug Avandia Could Weaken Bones
Date:12/2/2007

Mouse study suggests it boosts production of bone-eroding cells

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Avandia, a drug used by millions of diabetes patients, may contribute to bone loss, according to a new study conducted in mice.

Experts fear that, over the long term, Avandia (rosiglitazone) may speed osteoporosis, the thinning of the bones that can lead to dangerous and even fatal fractures.

The findings appear in the Dec. 2 online issue of Nature Medicine.

"Our study suggests that long-term rosiglitazone usage in the treatment of type II diabetes may cause osteoporosis due to both increased bone resorption and decreased bone formation," said study senior author Ron Evans, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. "Because Avandia is effective in controlling glucose and restoring the body's sensitivity to insulin, we do not recommend that people stop their treatment. You must balance the benefits against the complications."

"Anyone who is already at risk for osteoporotic fractures should consider an alternative anti-diabetic drug," added Paul Brandt, an associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, in College Station. "There are many alternatives, " he said.

"It may [also] be possible to blunt some of Avandia's effects with anti-osteoporosis drugs such as bisphosphonates, raloxifene, vitamin D and calcium," Brandt added.

Earlier this year, Avandia and four other diabetes drugs from the same class were given a "black box" warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That warning advises users of an increased risk of heart failure while on the drug.

The black box message is the FDA's strongest label warning.

With an estimated 3.5 million or more U.S. patients taking Avandia, the public health impact from the point of view of both heart failu
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