This summer, as the Avandia story went from the FDA wanting to pull it from the market to voting to let it stay, despite plenty of evidence that it had no business on pharmacy shelves, doctors started switching their patients to another big-name diabetes drug — Actos.
Good move, right? With Avandia linked to serious heart danger, get your patients on something else.
Well…it would have been a good move — except for one thing.
Actos could be pretty darn dangerous in its own right. The FDA recently announced it would be looking into a connection between Actos and bladder cancer after a long-term study found increased risk of the cancer in patients with the longest exposure to and highest cumulative doses of the drug.
Oh, and because Actos and Avandia are in the same class of drug — thiazolidinediones — it could mean one more blow against Avandia (though it hasn’t been linked to a higher risk of bladder cancer — yet).
In fact, the FDA will be reviewing both drugs in light of the Actos-bladder cancer connection.
Despite the fact that Actos became the "back up" for Avandia for many physicians, both drugs carry warnings about heart risks — because Avandia has been more prominently featured in the news for the connection, though, Actos has flown under the radar on that issue.
Of course, this has created more confusion than anything else — for doctors treating diabetes, for patients with diabetes. There are no clear answers. However, there are some very good questions — most notably the one on everyone’s minds at this year’s meeting of the American Diabetes Association.
One attendee summed up the central debate. It wasn’t whether a patient should be switched from Avandia to Actos — but whether he should be on either one in the first place.
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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