Patients with type 2 diabetes run the risk of losing a limb to the disease. Patients taking Avandia–GlaxoSmithKline‘s branded version of the medication rosiglitazone–also run the risk of fracturing an arm or leg because the drug weakens bones.
Certainly not last, having diabetes significantly raises a person’s risk for having a fatal heart attack. GlaxoSmithKline was compelled to add heart warnings to Avandia’s prescribing information in 2007. These warnings drew new attention recently with the publication of data in the Aug. 18 issue of the medical journal BMJ. Researchers examined treatment outcomes for nearly 40,000 patients with diabetes and found not only that Avandia had a greater heart attack risk but also worked no better than its chief competitor Actos, which is Takeda‘s brand name version of the medication pioglitazone.
All drugs pose some risk for patients, but no treatment should leave a patient worse off than she began. This does happen too often, however. Medical errors ranging from wrong-site surgeries to dispensing the wrong drug in the wrong dose harm patients every day. When the treatments themselves are at least as dangerous as the diseases, patients start two strikes down in their battle to return to or maintain their health.
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