Thousands of patients have already suffered the adverse effects of Avandia, a popular diabetes drug that poses a serious heart attack risk. Now the federal government is finally stepping in, with an announcement that it will pull Avandia from retail pharmacy store shelves beginning November 18. The drug will be available only through a special mail-order program to diabetic patients who cannot control their blood sugar levels with any other drugs.
Avandia was once the world's best-selling diabetes pill, generating about $3 billion in revenue for London-based GlaxoSmithKline. Sales dropped in 2007 when the FDA found clear evidence that Avandia was linked to more than 83,000 heart attacks, but the risk was not enough to deter most patients, and the drug still remained in widespread use. A Bloomberg report shows that 235,000 patients filled an Avandia prescription in January.
The FDA severely restricted use of the drug in September 2010, but the latest restriction is much closer to a complete recall. Only a very limited number of patients will be able to receive a prescription for Avandia via a mail order from specially-certified pharmacies. And those patients must also be enrolled in a special program to ensure that they are fully informed about the risks of Avandia before they decide to take the drug.
The new restrictions are promising because they impose strong government oversight, require informed patient consent, and encourage patients to consider less dangerous alternatives. But it will take 6 months for the program to be fully implemented, and patients are still being exposed to serious health risks every day that they take their Avandia prescriptions. Avandia increases the risk of heart attack by nearly 40 percent in people with Type II diabetes, who are already much more prone to a heart attack than those without the disease. For these patients, the restrictions may be too little, too late. Drug recall attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Law Firm will continue to advocate on behalf of all patients who have been harmed by Avandia and will continue to push for a complete recall of the dangerous drug.