August 25, 2009

Diabetes drug linked to heart failure risk

Canadian scientists say they have discovered rosiglitazone (Avandia) a type 2 diabetes drug, might be linked with increased risk of heart failure and death.

The scientists from the University of Toronto and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, said the linkage was found among older patients, compared to a similar drug, pioglitazone (Actos).

The scientists used prescription records to identify nearly 40,000 patients aged 66 years and older who started treatment with either rosiglitazone or pioglitazone between April 2002 and March 2008. Data on hospital admission for either a heart attack or heart failure during the six-year study period were recorded and deaths were identified.

An analysis showed patients treated with pioglitazone had a significantly lower risk of heart failure and death compared to patients treated with rosiglitazone, but the scientists said there was no significant difference in the risk of heart attack.

Our findings suggest clinically important differences in the cardiovascular safety profiles of rosiglitazone and pioglitazone in clinical practice, the researchers said. Given the accumulating evidence of harm with rosiglitazone treatment and the lack of a distinct clinical advantage for the drug over pioglitazone, it is reasonable to question whether ongoing use of rosiglitazone is justified.

The research appears in the online edition of the British Medical Journal at