A new diabetes pill that appeared headed for federal approval can double the risk for deaths, heart attacks and strokes, according to a study released online Thursday because of public safety concerns.
The drug muraglitazar, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co. under the brand name Pargluva, was endorsed by a Food and Drug Administration panel last month. It is a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition that occurs most often in adults who are overweight.
But Cleveland Clinic researchers who analyzed data the FDA made public before the panel vote found that patients taking Pargluva faced double the risk of death, heart attack or stroke, compared with those on dummy pills or a similar drug.
The drug's makers said earlier this week that they had received an "approvable" letter from the FDA that also asked for more safety data on the drug's cardiovascular effects.
"It is beyond me why individuals who are supposed to be overseeing the safety of the public would take a chance when it's not necessary," said Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor in chief. "It's not like there are not other drugs that can be used" for diabetes.
The non-insulin drug is designed to lower blood sugar levels and increase levels of "good" cholesterol in patients with Type 2 diabetes, the AP reports.
DeAngelis said the Cleveland Clinic analysis shows much more study is needed, and she likened the situation to what occurred with Merck's Vioxx. Merck removed the painkiller from the market last year because of evidence linking it with cardiac problems. Critics contend the FDA did not adequately address safety concerns raised about Vioxx. A.M.