As if risking a heart attack or heart failure wasn't enough, a new study is fingering GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia as a culprit in thinning bones. Over the long term, taking the drug could lead to osteoporosis, the researchers concluded.
The study, published online by Nature Medicine, focused on bone changes in mice dosed with Avandia. The drug appeared to boost the activity of cells that degrade bone. Previously, bone-thinning in diabetics was assumed to be caused by decreased activity among cells that rebuild bone that's been degraded.
GSK already has acknowledged a study that found a higher risk of fractures among women who take the drug. But this mouse study was the first to explain just how that risk might arise. The study's lead author says this research could lead to new drugs that "dial out" the bone-thinning side effect. Unfortunately, that won't help Avandia. But adding an anti-osteoporosis drug to the regimen might. For its part, GSK says it's still confident in the drug's risk-benefit profile.
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