Lancet: Glaxo HIV med boosts cardiac risk

A leading AIDS med made by GlaxoSmithKline carries nearly double the risk of heart attack compared with other anti-HIV meds, according to a new study published by the Lancet. Abacavir--which recently was anointed a "preferred choice" for first-time AIDS treatment--stepped up heart attack risk by 90 percent, the 33,000-patient study showed. EU drug regulators asked GSK for more data on the drug so they might better analyze the potential risk.

AIDS treatment experts said that, because the study didn't identify a biological cause for the increased risk, they might not choose to switch patients off the med. Plus, the patients most likely to develop heart problems with abacavir are those with underlying medical problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure--but the alternative drug can cause kidney problems in those patients.

GSK sped out a statement in response, saying that analysis of its own data on 9,600 patients show no increased risks (But the EMEA notes that these studies weren't designed to check for cardiac risks). Even if the heart attack risk were doubled, it would still be quite low, the company said: 6 per 1,000 patients versus 3 per 1,000.

- see GSK's statement
- read the European Medicines Agency release
- get more from the BBC
- find this story from the San Francisco Chronicle
- check out the MarketWatch news on the EU

ALSO: India's Cipla makes its anti-HIV meds by circumventing other companies' patents, making it the largest AIDS drug supplier in the world. Supporters say CEO Yusuf Hamied has saved countless lives by making meds affordable; critics call him a pirate and opportunist. Report | Report

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