I’m not a “natural-know-it-all” who won’t ever recommend a drug. Some people with some health problems do require drugs. In fact, as I reported yesterday, I recommend the drug metformin for the management of high blood sugar and Type II diabetes.
Metformin is the only diabetes drug demonstrated to also prevent the many complications of diabetes. Such as damage to the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, and peripheral nerves.
Metformin is also an inexpensive generic drug. So it’s weathered the test of time and “post-marketing” surveillance. Which means it’s now taken by millions of normal patients. (Not just the ones who were selected for drug trials because they were most likely to show benefits and least likely to show harmful side effects.) So we know it’s safe.
The other Type II diabetes drugs on the market just can’t compete.
Consider rosiglitazone (Avandia) for example. This “blockbuster” drug once brought in $3 billion a year in sales for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). But since 2012, GSK has had to pay billions of dollars in fines for illegally promoting the drug. And for hiding safety data. In fact, it just recently settled a class action lawsuit with the state of West Virginia.
In Europe, Avandia is off the market. But you can still get it in the U.S., although I don’t know why anyone would take it…or why any doctor would ever prescribe it. If your doctor does, make sure to tell him or her about the large meta-analysis from about a year ago that compared metformin to Avandia.
For this comparison analysis, researchers looked at 29 different studies. In these studies, men and women with Type II diabetes who took metformin had a 10 percent reduced risk of suffering a cardiovascular event. In nine of the studies, the patients who took metformin had a 12 percent reduced risk of suffering a heart attack, specifically. And in seven of the studies, the metformin patients had a 10 percent reduced risk of suffering from heart failure.
By stark contrast, in 25 studies, men and women who took Avandia showed a 21 percent increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event. Plus, they increased their risk of suffering heart failure by 27 percent in 13 studies. And they increased their heart attack risk by 17 percent in 21 studies.
Now, let’s compare the old and new drugs against each other. Overall, Avandia patients had a 31 percent higher cardiovascular disease risk compared to metformin patients. They had a 29 percent higher heart attack risk. And they had a whopping 37 percent higher heart failure risk.
Clearly, this new, “improved” drug is just a “heart attack in a pill” for unsuspecting diabetes patients.
Of course, one article I read about this meta-analysis did allude to the “controversy” surrounding the use of Avandia. I assume they were talking about that $3 billion in fines. And the fact that Avandia is linked to a slew of strange, harmful side effects…from increased fracture risk to difficulty swallowing.
But when you look at this meta-analysis’ actual findings…it’s much more than just a controversy. It looks like an outright crime to me.
The good news is, treating diabetes properly can help you lower your heart disease risk. But only if you and your doctor choose the right drug.
1. “CVD Reduced With Metformin, Higher With Rosiglitazone: Meta-Analysis,” Medscape (www.medscape.com) 6/24/2013
2. “Glaxo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement,” New York Times (www.nytimes.com) 7/2/2012