Study: Actos just as risky as Avandia

A new study is suggesting that the diabetes drug Actos is just as risky as its much-maligned competitor Avandia. Researchers found that patients using Takeda Pharmaceuticals' drug were just as likely to have heart attacks, experience heart failure, or die as were patients using GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia. The increase in heart risks was 4 percent for both groups, according to the study in Circulation, the American Heart Association's journal.

Researchers looked at more than 36,000 diabetes patients using either Avandia or Actos. Of those who took Avandia, 602 either had a heart attack, got heart failure, or died; 599 taking Actos suffered those outcomes. In each group, 217 patients died.

The results contrast with other data indicating Avandia is riskier than Actos--for instance, FDA researcher David Graham's study in Medicare patients. But as Bloomberg points out, the average age of patients in the new study was 54. Graham's Medicare patients were 74.4 years old, on average. So WebMD asks, might Avandia be riskier than Actos only in older patients?

Several experts point out that Graham's study isn't the only one that suggests Avandia's heart risks are greater. But a few other previous studies contradict them. And as GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda repeatedly emphasize, their clinical data doesn't show that the meds boost the risk of heart attack or death.

- read the Bloomberg story
- see the HealthDay coverage
- get more from WebMD