How Ironic Is This?

How Ironic Is This?

A four-year Canadian study found that patients with impaired glucose tolerance, what some would call pre-diabetes, can prevent full blown diabetes from developing by taking a low-dose drug cocktail, Avandia and metformin. According to Bernard Zinman, MD, director of the diabetes center at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital and professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and one of the study’s researchers; “Remarkably, the effect of the combination was remarkably robust with over 60% decrease in risk of diabetes.”

Although this was a very small study, just 207 patients, Dr. Zinman noted; “The side-effects were not there — the weight gain, fluid retention, the gastrointestinal side-effects.”

Of course you can’t have a discussion about Avandia without discussing if there were any cardiovascular issues in this study, a study which was funded by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) the makers of Avandia. Dr. Zinman noted that the study was not large enough nor long enough to properly examine cardiovascular issues. Although he did not that Actos would like produce the same result as Avandia.

To Diabetic Investor studies such as these only make matters worse for patients who may falsely believe that Avandia, a largely discredited drug, may somehow be safe. This study also speaks to just how desperate Glaxo has become to save the Avandia franchise. Glaxo has long maintained that original meta-analysis that created all the controversy was flawed, however market forces have spoken as sales of Avandia have fallen dramatically and we have reached a point where the FDA is considering pulling the drug from the market.

While Diabetic Investor can understand Glaxo’s desire to wring a few more dollars out of this franchise, we are frankly astonished they would stoop to such a low level. Like it or not it’s time for Glaxo to accept the reality of the situation and move on, whether they agree with the findings of the meta-analysis the company knows all too well that the market has spoken. Facing a host of class-action lawsuits the company would be wise to use these resources to defend themselves rather than create even more controversy.

At some point the company must realize that besides protecting their shareholders they have a moral responsibility to the millions of patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes. Since the controversy emerged and has more information has become public it’s clear that Glaxo’s behavior has been less than forthright.  It’s time for the company to accept responsibility for their actions and acknowledge what the market is saying. They should take the further step by halting any ongoing studies involving Avandia. Finally the company should begin to mend the broken fences they created within the diabetes community.  

The reality for Glaxo, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not, is that the market has spoken and Avandia should be pulled from the market. It’s time to move on.