Local Doctor, Patient Weigh in on Avandia Controversy - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Local Doctor, Patient Weigh in on Avandia Controversy

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Doctors are being inundated with phone calls from concerned patients over reports that diabetes drug, Avandia, may increase the risk of heart attack. In this week's Dealing with Diabetes report, Eye on Health hears from a local man who takes Avandia and from a diabetes specialist.

Las Vegas resident Robert Hoch takes Avandia in combination with another drug to treat his type-two diabetes. Avandia came under scrutiny this week after a report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested the drug raises the risk of heart attack. 

Hoch, who already has some degree of heart disease, says anyone who didn't already know about the risk, hasn't been reading the inserts that come with the Avandia.

"They gave you all the side effects and they gave you the benefits of what it did," said Hoch. "And it takes the sugar down about 34%."

Henderson endocrinologist, Reid Litchfield is among local doctors Eye on Health has talked with about Avandia that say the report is inconclusive at best. Dr. Litchfield says the research process that was used, known as meta-analysis, draws on a mixed bag of information.

"Although there is a measure of validity associated with these studies, it is not the kind of study that you would have the ability to put a lot of confidence in," said Dr. Litchfield.

One of the difficulties in looking at whether a particular drug raises the risk of heart disease is that diabetes itself is a major contributor.

"And so it is not a simple matter to take a disease which is known to increase the risk of heart disease and then assign blame to a drug we use to treat the disease state as causing an increased risk in heart disease," said Dr. Litchfield. 

While some patients, including Robert Hoch, has full confidence in his doctor's advice to stick with Avandia for now. Others have requested an alternative.

"No drug is perfect for everyone," said Hoch.

"I think that every patient needs to discuss this with their physician, review their individual case with their doctor," said Dr. Litchfield.

The FDA is still reviewing information regarding Avandia's heart attack risk. 

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