30 Oct: Avandia one vote away from elimination

Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says that the FDA’s Drug Safety Oversight Board voted 8-7 on Oct. 2 to keep the scandal-plagued diabetes drug Avandia on the market. The result was kept from the public. Wow, what a nailbiter. That’s enough to give Glaxo execs a heart attack (or at least increase the risk of one by, oh, 43 percent.) (Via Reuters.)

25 Jul: Avandia’s latest side effect: $200 million in lost revenues for Glaxo

Glaxo pulled a rabbit out of the hat in its earnings report today with a little misdirection. Per MarketWatch: GlaxoSmithKline on Wednesday took some of the attention away from disappointing sales of diabetes drugs by announcing it was lifting its stock buyback authorization to 12 billion pounds ($24.7 billion). Experts expected to see Glaxo report a $200 million revenue plunge in sales of Avandia, its diabetes medicine that’s been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. According to The Times of London, analysts, on average, predicted that global sales of the drug during the three months to June 30 had fallen by 23 per cent to 367 million, compared to 477 million in 2006. (You can double those numbers…

20 Jul: Older diabetes drugs are cheaper, effective and have fewer side effects

It appears someone finally decided to take a look at the effectiveness and benefits of older diabetes drugs (such as metformin) compared with newer, more expensive ones (such as Avandia). Dr. Shari Bolen of Johns Hopkins University studied various medical databases and found 216 relevant studies and two systematic reviews. According to Reuters: Older drugs controlled blood sugar levels about as well as the thiazolidinediones [Avandia] did. There were some differences, however, in other effects. Thiazolidinediones were the only drugs that increased HDL “good” cholesterol levels, but they also increased LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Metformin reduced LDL cholesterol levels, while the other agents appeared to have no effect on cholesterol levels. With the exception of metformin, the drugs generally increased…