CAIRO: The Ministry of Health decided to take 14 anti-diabetic drugs off the market to prevent possible health risks.
The ministry stipulated in a statement issued on Saturday, that all drugs that contain rosiglitazone will be pulled from pharmacies throughout Egypt following a statement by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the drugs’ side effects outweigh their benefits.
On Thursday, the EMA recommended that drugs containing rosiglitazone be suspended from the European pharmaceutical market due to concern over the finding that it raises the risk of heart disease.
Rosiglitazone works as an insulin sensitizer, which is widely used to treat insulin resistance in sufferers of type 2 diabetes. It is sold as a stand-alone drug under the label Avandia, and as an active ingredient in a host of other varieties of drug combinations sold at pharmacies. It is predominately marketed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Over 13,000 lawsuits have been filed worldwide against GSK because of the drug’s side effects, and GSK has agreed to pay settlements in about 10,000 of these legal cases, Bloomberg reported last July.
According to a press release by the EMA, rosiglitazone has been recognized to be associated with fluid retention and an increased risk of heart failure. As a result, the cardiovascular safety of taking the drug must remain under close medical review.
“The drug isn’t good and it had many restrictions on it from the start,” Dr. Mahmoud Abdel Maksoud, Secretary General of the Pharmacists Syndicate, told Daily News Egypt. “Whenever a patient used to ask me for it, I would advise him to ask his doctor for an alternative.”
When Avandia was first sold in the pharmaceutical marketplace in 2000, its use was restricted to patients who couldn’t tolerate safer alternatives. And even then, most doctors would routinely deter patients with a history of heart failure from taking the drug, according to EMA.
According to the ministry, patients who are currently taking these drugs should discuss suitable alternative treatments with their doctor.
Rosiglitazone is quite controversial in the US. Some experts believe that is has grave health risks and have recommended it be taken off the market, but the US Food and Drug Administration disagreed with the recommendations and has decided to keep it available for purchase under considerable restrictions.