Does Avandia cause heart attacks, and why the RECORD study is important

The diabetes drug Avandia’s fate hangs in the balance tomorrow.

It’s a much maligned medication, with famed cardiologist Steven Nissen gaining publicity for its possible association with heart attacks.

Tomorrow, during the American Diabetes Association annual meeting, the final results of the RECORD study is due to be released. This is a study that was designed to answer the questions surrounding Avandia’s cardiovascular safety profile. Interim results had previously been released a few years ago, but tomorrow’s presentation will provide more definitive conclusions.

Internist Matthew Mintz has been a staunch defender of the drug, and he envisions four possible outcomes from the study: i) Avandia increases the incidence of heart attacks; ii) an inconclusive result; ii) Avandia does not increase or decrease the incidence of heart attacks; and, iv) Avandia actually decreases the incidence of heart attacks.

In the first scenario, Dr. Nissen prevails, and it’s likely that Avandia will be pulled from the market. But if Avandia hasn’t been shown to increase cardiovascular events, Dr. Mintz calls for the continued use of the medication, and others in its class, as another option prior to the use of insulin.

Either way, he writes that “the results of the study should have profound implications for the management of all patients with type 2 diabetes.”

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