Council withdraws diabetes medicine

07 July 2011 - 01:45 By HARRIET MCLEA

The Medicines Control Council has withdrawn the diabetes medicine Avandia from the market because it contains a substance that might increase the likelihood of a heart attack.

The medication, produced by GlaxoSmithKline, is prescribed to some type2 diabetics.

The council made the decision five weeks ago "due to safety risks" attributed to rosiglitazone, a constituent of Avandia.

A statement by the council on Tuesday said: "Rosiglitazone is associated with an increased risk [of] heart failure, myocardial infarction [heart attack] and cardiac arrest".

Avandia was registered in South Africa in October 2004. The EU and the UK have already withdrawn rosiglitazone-containing medicine from their markets.

Spokesman for the department of health Fidel Hadebe could not say how many South Africans take Avandia.

"Given the reality that diabetes is a huge problem in South Africa, it is obvious that quite a number of people are on [Avandia]," he said.

Diabetes nurse educator Razana Allie, of Diabetes SA, said Metformin was one of a few alternative products that could be used in South Africa.

The local representatives of GlaxoSmithKline could not be reached for comment.