Avandia Heart Attack
Avandia is the trade name under which the diabetic drug rosiglitazone was marketed by SmithKline Beecham, the pharmaceutical company that developed it. Rosiglitazone works by binding to specialized receptors on the nuclear membranes of adipose, liver, muscle, heart and smooth muscle cells.
SmithKline Beecham performed research into their new drug, in the hopes of proving it more effective than Actos, a drug with similar pharmacological properties, made by a competing drug manufacturer. SmithKline Beecham discovered, however, that while Avandia's intended effects were equivalent to those of Actos, Avandia had a negative side effect in that Avandia appeared to significantly raise the risk of adverse cardiovascular events.
Diabetics and Heart Disease
Diabetics run a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than do members of the general population. Diabetes causes the tiny blood vessels within the heart to become fibrotic, decreasing their ability to pump blood efficiently. Additionally, the metabolic dysfunctions associated with diabetes make diabetics less able to deal with the lactic acid buildup that occurs when the body is receiving insufficient oxygen. Type 2 diabetics suffer heart attacks and die from cardiac complications at the same rate as individuals who have already suffered a major cardiac event.
Avandia and Heart Disease
SmithKline Beecham did not share the results of its in-house research linking Avandia use to heart disease with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In 2000, SmithKline Beecham merged with Glaxo Wellcome to become GlaxoSmithKline, the second largest pharmaceutical maker and distributor in the world. Avandia comprised a huge part of GlaxoSmithKline's revenue stream. In 2006 alone, Avandia earned the company approximately $3.2 billion.
In 2001, at the FDA's request, GlaxoSmithKline began another study into cardiovascular outcomes among patients using Avandia. Completed in 2007 and published in the medical journal Lancet in 2009, the RECORD study found no increase in hospitalizations or deaths secondary to cardiovascular events, though it did find an increase in the incidence of congestive heart failure.
Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist with the well-respected Cleveland Clinic, was very skeptical of GlaxoSmithKline's claims, and undertook his own analysis of the 42 Avandia clinical trials posted on GlaxoSmithKline's website. His results, published in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that Avandia increased heart attack risks by 43 percent. Following Dr. Nissen's study, the FDA began requiring Avandia labels to carry a "black box" warning, advising patients of the link between Avandia use and increased risks of heart disease.
While Avandia remains on the market in the United States today, its use is highly circumscribed. The medication can only be prescribed by certified physicians, and is only available by mail order from specialty pharmacies.
How to react
If you or a loved one has been prescribed Avandia do not stop taking the drug without fully discussing the matter with the prescribing doctor. Weigh the benefits against the risks before making any decisions to continue or discontinue the use of the drug. Educate yourself on the alternatives and discuss those alternatives with your doctor. Feel free to contact our Patient and Family Advocates if you need to discuss the matter in more detail.
Those that have been injured by the use of Avandia may have the right to seek compensation for their loss. Litigation over adverse reactions to prescription drugs is a highly specialized field in the practice of law. If you feel the need to speak with an experienced, nationally recognized expert in Avandia litigation contact our Patient and Family Advocates for help in setting up an immediate consultation. Both the consultation and the representation will cost you nothing unless and until a recovery is made on your behalf.