Do I have other options if I want to stop taking Avandia?
Yes. Takeda Pharmaceuticals' Actos, a drug in the same class as Avandia, "works in what we think is a similar fashion," Kendall says. The labels for both Avandia and Actos contain warnings that the drugs may cause or exacerbate congestive heart failure, but there is no evidence so far that Actos causes heart attack, angina, stroke, or death, as is the concern about Avandia. More definitive answers on the safety of Avandia and Actos may come from a large GSK-sponsored and FDA-mandated clinical trial called TIDE, for which the drugmaker is currently enrolling participants, but even that is not without controversy because of the possible heart risk for study subjects. "[We] really have to know what the risks are," says Vigersky.
When will the government know more about Avandia's safety?
The FDA says it is reviewing information on Avandia's safety and that no recommendations have been made so far. The agency plans to hold a public meeting in July when the review is finished, and at that time, it will detail the known information about Avandia's heart-related safety and update the public on the risks and benefits of the drug. Do I need to get my heart checked out if I've been taking Avandia for some time?
Because diabetes itself carries a risk of cardiovascular problems, it's important to know where you stand on heart-related risk factors whether or not you take Avandia. In fact, for those with diabetes, the risk of a heart attack is the same as that for a person who has already had a heart attack, according to MedlinePlus. Because of this, people with diabetes should know their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, Kendall says. [Learn how to control your blood pressure with and without medication and how to lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol.]