Using Byetta With Avandia May Negate Heart Attack Risks: Study

Researchers say that the diabetes drug Byetta may help reduce the risk of heart attacks from Avandia, another diabetes drug that has been heavily restricted due to cardiac concerns. The findings suggest that using the drugs in combination may negate the risk of heart problems, and the researchers hope the study may show how possible solutions to drug side effects could be gleaned from FDA data on adverse events.  

The study was published last week in the medical journal Science Translational Medicine, using data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) to identify a possible link between taking the diabetes drugs Byetta and Avandia together and a reduced risk of heart attack.

Avandia (rosiglitazone) is a GlaxoSmithKline diabetes drug that has been found to increase the risk of heart attacks. Once a blockbuster drug, it is now used by only a few thousand patients, and has been banned in a number of countries. In the U.S. it is only available via a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) designed to restrict its use to lower the chances of patients suffering heart attacks.

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Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York analyzed FAERS data and found that patients who were taking Byetta and Avandia together were less likely to suffer a heart attack than those just taking Avandia. They looked into how this could be possible and determined that incretin mimetics, a class of diabetes drugs that includes Byetta, Januvia, Janumet and Victoza, could reduce Avandia’s chances of increasing blood clotting.

The discovery led to the researchers looking for other possible drug combinations that could mitigate adverse events, known as polypharmacology, and they found another 19,133 possible drug combinations that could be studied.

“We conclude that this type of crowdsourced approach of using databases like FAERS can help to identify drugs that could potentially be repurposed for mitigation of serious adverse events,” the researchers stated.

Diabetes Drug Concerns

Since concerns about the heart risks of Avandia surfaced in 2007, confidence in the safety of diabetes drugs has been shaken, with several other medications also being linked to serious side effects.

Although the drug may help mitigate the risk of heart attacks when used with Avandia, recent reports have raised concerns about an increased risk of pancreatic cancer from Byetta and other similar drugs that are part of the incretin mimetic family. Other popular diabetes drugs that have also been linked to a possible risk of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis include Januvia, Janumet, Victoza and others.

A growing number of Byetta lawsuits, Januvia lawsuits, Janumet lawsuits, and Victoza lawsuits are now being filed in courts throughout the U.S. alleging that the manufacturers of the medications failed to properly research the side effects or warn that they increased the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Concerns about the potential side effects of Actos have also emerged in recent years, including indications that users may face an increasd risk of bladder cancer following long-term use of this other popular type 2 diabetes medication. Actos (pioglitazone) is a member of the same class of medications as Avandia, and sales of the drug took off after Avandia use was restricted. However, concerns about the Actos bladder cancer risk began to emerge in 2010, after interim data from an ongoing study found that users may face an increased risk.

About 2,500 former users are now pursuing Actos bladder cancer lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, alleging that inadequate warnings were provided about the risks associated with long-term use of the diabetes drug.


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