Do We Even Need this Drug?

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According to the website Online Lawyer Source, the diabetes drug Avandia, has been documented to increase the risk of heart attacks. A pivotal meta analysis study including assessments of 42 clinical trials, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, involving almost 28,000 Avandia users.

The study confirmed that Avandia significantly increased (43%) the risk of heart attack risk in patients being treated for type two diabetes. The drug was taken off of the market in Europe, yet remains on the market in America. Avandia has been in the news the past few weeks as a team known as Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) works to reanalyze the original meta-analysis mentioned above. Sales of Avandia approached $3 billion dollars before the meta-analysis, but sales dropped to about $500 million in 2010. 

On June 6th, 2013 the results of DCRI’s reanalysis were published in American Heart Journal. DCRI concluded that Avandia is no more dangerous to the heart, than one other drug marketed for diabetes called Metformin.


MY TAKE- Generally speaking, a meta-analysis including 42 separate research papers and 28,000 patients that finds a 43% increase risk of heart attacks is considered conclusive. GlaxoSmithKline (Glaxo) hired DCRI to re-review the meta-analysis. Even though I continue to see enormous conflicts of interest, the DRI team received grants and fees from Glaxo for their efforts. Their work concluded that Avandia was no more dangerous than a competing drug, Metformin. 

How in the world a meta-analysis of this size is quickly overturned by a comparatively small group of Duke researchers is beyond me. The pill has not changed, nor the risk factors, but doctors will now begin convincing patients to take Avandia by claiming that the benefits outweigh the risks. Do they, or has finance superseded science? Whatever Glaxo paid the DCRI, it will be seen as an excellent investment because the DCIR will have, in effect, repaved Glaxo’s road to $3 billion. 
American doctors have become gluttonous for drugging their patients. Who even needs Avandia? I believe that type two diabetes is often a “chosen lifestyle disease” requiring lifestyle changes rather than drugs. My view of Duke University changed today, because I have to question what just took place-who wouldn’t question this quick reversal? But my view of pharmaceutical companies remains the same. This is simply what they do.

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