Thursday, November 20, 2008

Doctors allege intimidation in raising drug warnings, investigation shows

From CBC News:
Two physicians who tried to warn about the high risk of serious side-effects of the Type 2 diabetes drug Avandia allege they were intimidated by the company that sells it, a CBC investigation revealed Wednesday.

Last year, a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 43 per cent higher risk of heart attack among people taking Avandia, or rosiglitazone, compared to a control group, and 64 per cent more likely to die of cardiovascular problems.

Avandia was hailed as a breakthrough for blood-sugar control. It is designed to help sensitize the body to insulin.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have issued strong warnings as a result of the 2007 study. By that point, researchers were estimating thousands of people taking Avandia had died, given it had been on the market since 1999. In Canada in 2007, doctors had written more than a million prescriptions for Avandia, according to IMS Health Canada, an industry trend watcher.

In 2000, Dr. Mary Money, an internist from Hagerstown, Md., raised one of the earliest alarms about Avandia. Of 33 patients she put on the new drug, 20 went on to develop serious edema, or fluid retention — a symptom of heart failure. ...more

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