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FDA to Pull Diabetes Drug Avandia From Pharmacy Shelves
Date:5/19/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that the controversial diabetes drug Avandia will no longer be sold at retail pharmacies beginning this November, due to the cardiovascular risks it poses to patients.

According to the new rules, which will go into effect on Nov. 18, the medication will only be available to patients who've been safely using the drug, those who have had no success in controlling their blood sugar with other diabetes medications or patients who have been informed of the risks and still choose to take Avandia (rosiglitazone).

These patients must be enrolled in a special program to qualify to receive the drug, according to the FDA.

"Under the Avandia-Rosiglitazone Medicines Access Program, rosiglitazone medicines will only be available to enrolled patients by mail order from certified pharmacies participating in the program," the agency said in a statement released Wednesday. "The drug manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, will withdraw rosiglitazone medicines from the current supply chain and will provide pharmacies with instructions on returning the medicines."

Rosiglitazone is also sold under the names Avandamet (where the drug is combined with metformin) and Avandaryl (rosiglitazone plus glimeperide). The new rules apply to those combination drugs as well.

According to Bloomberg News, GlaxoSmithKline said it plans to inform pharmacists and doctors about the new access program over the next two months, company spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said. In the meantime, patients should discuss their options with their doctors before making any changes to their diabetes treatment.

The withdrawal of Avandia and related products from drugstore shelves comes eight months after the FDA severely restricted use of rosiglitazone to those patients with type 2 diabetes for whom other medications do not wor
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