FDA panel controversy: Diabetes medicines don’t cause heart disease? Prove it.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

So you’re diabetic. Your cholesterol is high, and you’re overweight; you’re at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. You start on medicine that lowers your sugar … but increases your risk for cardiovascular disease even more. Not good.

This is the dilemma in which patients, physicians and drug companies find themselves. Some studies have suggested that certain diabetes drugs may be worsening heart-disease risk. What to do?

An FDA panel recommends requiring pharmaceutical companies to prove new diabetic drugs don’t increase cardiovascular-disease risk before they hit the market. But before you come to conclusions, there are arguments for and against this change.


  1. If you lower the sugar but increase the death rate, you’re just treating a lab value, not the patient’s overall health.
  2. If they don’t do the studies before the drug is on the market, it will be more difficult get the information needed to come to a definite conclusion. We’re seeing that in the diabetes drug Avandia now, where the jury is still out on how to interpret current data.
  3. The extra testing could save lives.


  1. The extra studies will keep important new drugs off the market for years. Europe already has some of these medicines for sale now.
  2. Additional studies will mean spending of millions of dollars and the medications will be more expensive, as if they weren’t already.

And so lies a conflict of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals.

I have an surefire answer. That sounds crass but is oh so true. The drugs in question treat the type of the diabetes (type 2) you usually get with age, not the other one (type 1) that requires insulin from the beginning.

So what is this proven method? Tune in tomorrow. (For free notification of new blog posts via e-mail, sign up at the top right of this page. No spam; no sharing of e-mails.)

What are your thoughts on the FDA panel recommendation? Join the debate below.

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One Response to “FDA panel controversy: Diabetes medicines don’t cause heart disease? Prove it.”

  1. James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor Blog » Blog Archive » Drug-free diabetes treatment! Safe, effective, proven … and no increased heart risk. Says:

    [...] HomeMedical TopicsAsk the Doctor!Meet the ExpertsRecipesDiscussionsBlogs Home » Blogs « FDA panel controversy: Diabetes medicines don’t cause heart disease? Prove it. [...]

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