Monday, September 27, 2010
Avandia Latest News
Last week, the FDA issued more restrictions regarding the diabetes medication Avandia (rosiglitazone). You can read the full notice at FDA.gov, but I will try and hit the highlights for you.
Avandia is a "TZD" which is a class of medications that helps to increase the body's sensitivity to insulin in diabetics. We have seen that it is very effective at lowering blood sugars. Unfortunately, it was discovered that this class should NOT be used in diabetics who also have congestive heart failure. Now, additional studies have shown that there is also an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who took Avandia. At this time, the other drug in the same TZD class, Actos (pioglitazone) is not proven to have the same risks, though many experts are concerned this will be a class effect. Europe has completely withdrawn Avandia from the market, but in the United States, patients doing well on Avandia may discuss the risks with their physicians before making a decision whether or not to continue this drug.
What should YOU do if you take Avandia? There is no need to panic, but schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss what is best for you. My advice is to take this news as a wakeup call that it is time to STOP LOOKING TO PILLS for an answer for your diabetes, and get serious about the behavior modifications in your diet and exercise that are necessary to reverse your disease! Yes, there are patients with adult onset diabetes who are thin and fit (I have three such patients in my practice) but the vast majority are significantly overweight. The GREAT news is that I have seen time and time again that when patients really embrace healthy eating and daily exercise ("MORE") the high blood sugars, high blood pressures, and high lipids (cholesterol) not only improve, but often disappear!
In Western medicine, we are conditioned to find the quick fix for disease states by prescribing the "right" pill. We have invented wonderful medications that improve the quality and quantity of life. However, the longer people take them, the more long term side effects we identify. What is safe and the "best" practice today is often the next great lawsuit tomorrow. I am NOT anti-medication, but I am most definitely PRO-behavior modification when that choice exists to treat the same problem.
BOTTOM LINE: If you take AVANDIA, please schedule an appointment with your physician and ask for concrete suggestions for a healthier lifestyle!
PS. For a jump start towards "MORE" health, check out my January 2010 blogs: More, More Exercise Buddies, More Fun, When is a pound really gone, etc.