Warning issued on dangers of diabetes drug Avandia

Thousands of Australians who are taking the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) have been urged by the drug's manufacturer to see their doctors following safety issues concerning the medication.

Avandia already carries a "black box" warning imposed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last year after research suggested it could raise the risk of heart attacks.

The drug's manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are now recommending that patients on the drug seek an immediate review with their doctor as recent research has revealed that Avandia may have ramifications for patients with heart related medical conditions.

The guidelines on which patients could benefit from the drug have been rewritten following safety fears raised by the latest research and further reduce the instances in which Avandia can be prescribed with other drugs.

Dr. Michael Elliott, Medical Director for GSK Australia, says patients taking Avandia should see their doctor first, rather than stopping the drugs on their own initiative.

Also affected by the changes is another drug, Avandamet, which is a combination of rosiglitazone and another anti-diabetes, metformin.

Avandia and Avandamet are not advised for use in patients who have a history of cardiac failure or angina or for patients with known ischaemic heart disease, particularly those who are currently being treated with nitrates or for patients with peripheral arterial disease.

The new guidelines say rosiglitazone is no longer recommended to be prescribed with insulin, or as a triple treatment in combination with metformin and another drug, sulfonylurea, which helps the pancreas make insulin.

An estimated 40,000 Australians are thought to be taking some form of rosiglitazone.

Further information can be accessed directly from GSK Australia on 1800 033 109.

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