At last, the Food and Drug Administration has taken action and banned the use of Avandia, a drug that was developed for diabetes, unless a person with diabetes has failed every other drug for diabetes and has been made aware of the substantial risks of Avandia to the heart. In Europe, the drug’s sales will be halted entirely.
Avandia, which is rosiglitazone, is a member of a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones or glitazones. When I read the first reports of an association between Avandia and heart attacks 4 years ago, I took all my patients off Avandia and switched them to the other remaining drug in this class, Actos or pioglitazone. Even this drug has its problems. It causes water retention, increased osteoporosis (loss of bone), and reduction in estrogen, which could result in oral contraceptives becoming less effective.
In the current edition of Diabetes For Dummies I have a “Warning” that rosiglitazone has been associated with an increased incidence of heart attacks. I do not recommend it. I have switched all my patients on rosiglitazone to pioglitazone or other drugs.
My opinion is that this entire class of drugs does more harm than good. Do not stop taking them on your own but see your doctor about getting on something else. There are plenty of other drugs that are good for diabetes without all the harmful side effects.