With the controversy over the cardiovascular risk of the diabetes drug Avandia still raging, a new study has found that its major competitor, Actos, also exhibits similar heart risks .
With the popularity of Avandia in decline (sales dropped from USD3.4 billion in 2006 to about USD1.1 billion this year), sales of Actos have risen to about USD4.6 billio, with people suffering from diabetes assuming that it is safer. The two drugs are both thizolidinediones, which act to decrease the insulin resistance of body tissues and modify the production of cholesterol, and have had a number of problems concerning side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US forced Avandia to introduce a stronger warning label to highlight that it increased the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, stroke and death by 30 per cent to 40 per cent compared with other, older diabetes drugs . That study did not find any increased risk with Actos.
As recently as last month the FDA recommended even stronger warning labels on Avandia, but didn’t take it off the market. The panel also recommended that there should be no further comparative studies of patients’ use of both Avandia and Actos.
However, this new study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, and which analysed the records of 28,938 clients who took either of the two drugs from 2001 to 2005, has revealed that about 4 per cent of each group had a heart attack, heart failure or died.

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