Friday, January 13, 2012

Conflicting Interpretations of Data for Diabetes Medication Rosiglitazone

Because of the uproar in the diabetes community fueled by a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) last week, the publication decided to release some preliminary findings in an article about an additional study on rosiglitazone (brand name Avandia). But even these preliminary findings are open to a lot of interpretation, and audiences are drawing different conclusions . One of todays' headlines read Diabetes drugmaker cites "reassuring" study, while another national media outlet captioned with Newest Avandia Study Not Reassuring. Even in the New England Journal of Medicine there were three different editorial pieces, all putting forth different interpretations of this data. Keep in mind that this is only preliminary.

We are amazed at what science has accomplished, and its ability to prolong life and heal. We are beneficiaries of that marvel. However, it is still appropriate to recognize that science has its limitations. For the last few weeks we've been confronting one of them. It is challenging enough to measure one issue, like a drug's ability to lower blood sugar levels. (Avandia does it very well.) It is even harder to measure the next generation of questions such as heart attacks. Taking such measures requires years of outcome data from very large numbers of patients.

My Diabetes Information wants science to measure these issues. We are not going to make excuses for adverse events. However, we do want to state that each and every one of us that uses any type of medication needs to realize that science has not been able to uncover or measure many of the risks that exist when we take advantage of the focused benefit that comes in a pill.


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