Two of the most commonly used drugs for diabetes, which were taken by hundreds of thousands of mostly overweight people in the UK last year, are causing widespread heart failure, scientists warn today.
Use of the drugs, prescribed by doctors for type II diabetes, has doubled in the past three years as a consequence of a growing obesity problem. Last year 1.8m prescriptions were written across the UK, which scientists say equates to several hundred thousand patients taking the drugs which are recommended for use across the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
But researchers today call on Nice to think again, revealing that as many as one in every 50 patients taking the drugs Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone) over a period of 26 months will have to be hospitalised for heart failure.
The class of drugs, they say in the journal Diabetes Care, doubles the risk of heart failure, and even those with no history of heart problems are affected.
He and his American colleagues pooled data from 78,000 patients who have taken the drugs, some of them during the manufacturers’ trials. They also looked closely at the cases of 200 people who suffered heart failure and found they were not people who were obviously at risk.
“Most patients in the studies did not have heart failure prior to starting on treatment with these drugs,” said Dr Loke. “There doesn’t seem to be a group of patients who are safe from these side-effects.”
Alastair Benbow, European medical director for GlaxoSmithKline, said of the study: “It is well recognised that the class of drug can cause fluid retention. It is wholly different from the issue raised previously about heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths.”
He said fluid retention could be resolved if the patient was well monitored and prescribed diuretics. Even heart failure could be treated in hospital. “What is missing here is the benefit these drugs provide.” The drugs kept blood sugar levels low, preventing serious effects of the disease such as blindness and amputations, he said.
And why is this proof that scientists are idiots? Well, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) [emphasis wholly mine]:
[…] 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke.
And if you are diagnosed with diabetes even without taking any drugs, especially type 2 diabetes (since you are already overweight), you are already at risk for heart disease you morons.
Hat tip: Matt “threat to democracy” Drudge