The influential panel of advisers appointed by the US Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) to review the danger of taking the diabetes drug Avandia have recommended that it remain on the market. Although concerns remain that it may increase the risk of heart attacks, the panel found there was not enough evidence to ban it. The panel also refused to provide any specific guidance about the drug, preferring to rely on the FDA to regulate and on doctors to decide the best drugs for any individual patient.
GlaxoSmithKline announced this week that it was spending an estimated USD2.4 billion to settle many of the hundreds of lawsuits concerning the diabetes drug and other treatments.
It was expected that the panel, made up of experts from the American Diabetes Associatio, the Endocrine Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, would ban the drug, but in fact they are more concerned that patients may be too afraid to take Avandia. The group agreed that it was more dangerous for diabetics to suddenly stop their current medication, despite there being alternative drugs to combat the metabolic condition.
In a statement, Robert Vigersky of the Endocrine Society, said “Patients should continue taking all currently prescribed medications unless instructed otherwise by their health care provider. Stopping diabetes medications can cause significant harm and result in higher levels of blood glucose that may cause severe short-term health problems and could increase the risk of diabetes-related complications in the long term.”
After discussions, the panel just could not agree on whether the evidence about the risks of Avandia were sufficient to request it to be taken off the market, despite some experts on the FDA staff and patient groups feeling strongly that it is dangerous.

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