Doctors in India Split on Banning Diabetes Drug
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15 July 2010
By Pushpa Narayan
Even as healthcare experts across the globe were waiting to watch a doctors cast their vote on the controversial anti–diabetic drug, rosiglitazone for the US Food and Drug Administration to decide on its future, diabetologists in the country are debating on whether the drug, blamed for causing heart failures, should be continued in India.
A series of reports published in medical journals have indicated multiple instances of heart attacks in patients who were given the drug. In India, where at least 17% of urban population and 12% of rural population are diabetic, doctors are divided in their opinion. Dr V Mohan, who heads the Madras Diabetes Foundation, prefers not to prescribe it until the air is cleared. “The drug has always carried a black box warning that it can trigger heart failures. It should be avoided by those who are at risk of having a heart disease. We chose patients, but now I avoid it,”he said. Another Chennai–based diabetologist Dr Vijay Vishwanath agrees. “We have equally good substitute for the drug,”he said.
It is estimated that 20% of diabetics are administered the drug and doctors favouring the drug say that diabetics are protected against heart diseases as most of them are given preventive medicines like statin and asprin to avoid problems.
“There can’t be a ban until you have evidence to prove the drug is unsafe. We need India–specific trials to prove that it is dangerous than the manufacturers have indicated,”said Mumbai–based Dr Shashank R Joshi, endocrinologist at Lilavati Hospitals. “If India has to ban the drug, we will have to test it here. Why should we go with what others say,”he said.
“In the last 30 months, number of trials which appeared on rosiglitazone have shown increased risk of heart attack and even death. I have no doubt that this drug is harmful, and should be banned in India,”a Delhi–based diabetologist Dr Anoop Misra said.