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Published on 13 November 2008

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Diabetes drug no benefit to heart


A diabetes drug that has come under scrutiny in recent years failed to significantly slow the buildup of plaque in heart arteries, a study has shown.

A report in 2007 suggested Avandia may raise the risk of heart attacks and heart-related deaths. Patients were also advised by the American Diabetes Association to avoid using the drug until questions over its safety were resolved.

Recent research – reported at an American Heart Association conference – compared Avandia with an older diabetes drug, glipizide, sold as Glucotrol.

The study involved 672 people with type 2 diabetes – the most common form of the disease and the one linked to obesity. All were at high risk of developing heart problems and many were very overweight.

Study leader Dr Richard Nesto, from the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, USA, and his team compared the thickness of plaque at the start of the trial with deposits 18 months later. Those on Avandia had a slight reduction in plaque, while those on glipizide showed a small increase, but the difference was statistically insignificant.

Dr James Stein, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who had no role in the research, said: “This is now the second study that was unable to show a beneficial effect.

“People really shouldn’t be using this to treat diabetes because safer and more effective medicines are available.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

American Heart Association

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