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Avandia Could Increase Risk of Heart Attack, New Study

most patients to take Avandia.

"There is little evidence for using this drug," Psaty said in an interview. "The purpose of reducing blood sugar is to prevent cardiovascular events. Now the possibility of cardiovascular benefit associated with Avandia appears remote -- indeed, it appears linked to harm. So the rationale for prescribing it at this time is just not clear."

Still Psaty warned patients taking Avandia not to just stop using it. They should continue taking the drug until they can discuss the matter with their doctor.

"This is not an immediate risk. It is the absence of an expected benefit and the possibility of harm over the yearsPatients should talk with their doctors and see if they are getting the benefit they expected. Doctors can look at the data and say whether there is a compelling reason for them to prescribe this drug. I don't think there is, he said.

The drug giant, had posted a fall in sales and profits for the first quarter of the year due to a strong pound and tough generic competition in the US.

But the company said its two best-selling drugs - Advair for asthma and Avandia for type 2 diabetes - performed well. Total sales of Advair, or Seretide as it is known in Europe, were up 11% to 835m, and sales of Avandia grew 19% to 414m.

It strongly repudiates the study, but a previous study by the GSK itself had showed about a 30% increase in heart risk to patients taking Avandia.

The company points out though that a study of 33,000 patients in a managed-care database showed no increased heart risk in patients taking Avandia. Both this study and the GSK analysis were given to the FDA in August 2006.

Ongoing, long-term studies also support Avandia safety, says GSK chief medical officer Ronald Krall.

"I want to be very clear that we are confident in the benefit/risk profile for Avandia. We believe that if it is used according
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