In a strike against GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia, a new study found that it carries more heart risks than rival Actos. In a review of Canadian health records, researchers found Avandia was more likely to trigger heart failure than Takeda Pharmaceuticals' Actos was. The study found that over a six-year period 6.9 percent of patients taking Avandia either died or were hospitalized for heart attack or heart failure. That compares with 5.3 percent of patients taking Actos.
The difference in risk appears to be linked to heart failure rather than heart attack, however; looking specifically at heart attacks, the two drugs were comparable, Reuters reports. Nevertheless, researchers said this latest of a series of studies questioning Avandia's safety makes it tough to support use of the drug. "Given the accumulating evidence of harm with rosiglitazone treatment and the lack of a distinct clinical advantage for the drug over pioglitazone (Actos)," they wrote in the British Medical Journal (as quoted by Reuters), "it is reasonable to question whether ongoing use of rosiglitazone is justified."
British experts, however, said that the analysis of health records didn't take into account possible differences among patients given Avandia versus Actos; the Avandia patients may have had worse outcomes because of underlying conditions rather than the drug itself. Glaxo also disputed the findings, saying that two controlled trials have found no differences in heart failure between the two drugs. The company is currently recruiting patients for a long-term outcomes trial comparing the two meds.
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