diabetes drug

  1. Actos in new cancer link

    Since the explosion of the Avandia scandal, there's been a massive rush to switch diabetics over to Actos, the other major diabetes drug.

    But the "other" drug comes with "other" risks -- and a new report shows again how there's just no such thing as a safe diabetes med.

    When researchers tracked more than half a million diabetes drug reactions reported to the FDA between 2004 and 2009, they found 138 cases of bladder cancer among patients who took one or more of 15 different meds.

    Actos was just one of those 15 meds... but it was linked to more than a fifth of the reports, according to the study in Diabetes Care.

    Now, I know that 20 percent of 138 cases of bladder cancer over 5 years doesn't sound like a lot... and it's probably not going to scare anyone away from Actos.

    But it's not the first time we've seen a link between Actos and bladder cancer.

    • Last year, data from the midpoint of a 10-year trial found that patients who took the highest doses of Actos, and those who took the drug for the longest periods had an increased risk of bladder cancer.
    • Two earlier studies -- both three-year clinical trials -- found a higher risk of bladder cancer in Actos patients.
    • A study on rats found bladder tumors in males that were given the rodent equivalent of a human dose.

    And if you're still not scared, consider this: Actos has been linked to its own Avandia-style heart risks.

    In one study, Actos patients actually suffered more heart attacks than patients who took Avandia -- and both drugs had similar rates of heart failure and death.

    Despite these and other risks, the mainstream isn't just switching former Avandia patients over to Actos -- they're actually trying to get people who don't even have diabetes to take it.

    As I told you recently, the drug's manufacturer has been touting a company-funded study that claims Actos can prevent diabetes in prediabetics -- despite the fact that the study was way too short to reach any such conclusion.

    There's really only one thing you need to know here, whether you're trying to control diabetes or just trying to avoid it: lifestyle changes will beat drugs -- and they'll beat them every single time.

  2. Drug scandal keeps getting worse

    The feds can't seem to figure out what to do with the dangerous diabetes drug Avandia, so they've resorted to impotent half measures--like ordering the drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline, to suspend recruiting for a new clinical trial.

    That's actually not that big of a deal: Avandia's increased heart risk is so well known that trial sites were having a hard time finding patients willing to participate anyway.

    But my guess is that this isn't about protecting the patients who would have been involved in the trial. It's about protecting the FDA--because if the agency acts on the recent recommendation by its own "expert" panel to keep Avandia on the market, it wouldn't do to have embarrassing data from a new trial haunting them for years to come.

    And speaking of that panel, the feds now admit that the carefully selected "experts" they convened to weigh one of the agency's biggest decisions in years had conflicts so glaring you could solve the vitamin D crisis in their bright, yellow glow.

    The panel, as you have probably heard, voted 20-12 to keep Avandia on the market, although most members also voted to add new warnings and restrictions.

    But it turns out that one panelist, Dr. David Capuzzi, was actually a paid speaker for GlaxoSmithKline. And while the "drug" he was paid to speak about was actually the fish oil capsules sold as Lovaza, Capuzzi had also served on a GlaxoSmithKline advisory panel for Avandia.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the company paid Capuzzi a total of $14,750 over the years, with the most recent payment--$3,000--coming in the second quarter of this year.

    He voted to keep Avandia on the market as is, with no additional warnings or restrictions. Coincidence? You decide--but only two out of 31 other panelists voted with him on that.

    What's more, another panelist had an equally glaring conflict on the other side of the issue. It turns out Dr. Abraham Thomas belonged to Takeda's Diabetes Speakers Bureau between September 2007 and September 2008. He gave two presentations, and was paid between $2,000 and $3,000.

    Takeda makes Actos, a direct rival to Avandia--and the drug often mentioned as the better choice (despite the fact that lifestyle changes are far better than either).

    Coincidence? Again, you be the judge--but feel free to note that Thomas wasn't nearly as lonely in his position as Capuzzi, since he joined 11 others in an effort to pull Avandia from the market.

    But at this point, it's fair to ask what else the FDA has been hiding from us. Just don't expect any honest answers any time soon.

  3. Shut down the Avandia trial!

    The dangers of the diabetes drug Avandia are now out there in the open, where everyone can see them... yet some people still think we need more research on these awful pills.

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