Following on the Cleveland Clinic study, the FDA demanded "black box" warnings on labeling for both Avandia and Actos, warning of a potentially heightened risks for heart failure. However, other studies found no raised level of heart risk, and at the time the agency said it had not reached a definitive conclusion on the data.
In November of the same year, the FDA updated Avandia's labeling to include a caution regarding heart attack risk. At the time, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said that, "we are keeping Avandia on the market because we have concluded there isn't enough evidence to indicate that the risk of heart attack is higher for Avandia than other type 2 diabetes treatments."
The story got more complicated in 2008, as a number of studies emerged tying the use of Avandia to increased bone fracture risk.
Throughout 2009, more studies reiterating the drug's heart risks also came to light, including one published in the BMJ suggesting that Avandia's risk for heart failure seemed to outstrip those of its related rival, Actos.
By that point, "most clinicians [had] stopped using Avandia -- some will use Actos instead or go to another class completely," Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, told HealthDay at the time.
The emergence of the leaked documents on Saturday comes at a time when officials within the FDA seem to be at loggerheads over whether to ban Avandia or not, the Times reported. The newspaper said that some officials believe that safer alternatives exist, while others say the evidence on Avandia's safety is conflicted and the drug should remain available as a treatment option.
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