New Studies: Actos Lowers Heart Risk; Avandia Increases It

Includes: GSK, TKPHF
by: Judith Levy

GlaxoSmithKline's diabetes drug Avandia took more hits this week when the Journal of the American Medical Association published results of two studies that implied a rival drug is safer. Avandia was Glaxo's second-biggest drug last year, with sales of $3.35 billion. In July, an FDA advisory committee found Avandia to pose a cardiovascular risk. The committee did not recommend that the drug be pulled from the market, but its findings prompted more doctors to prescribe Avandia's only direct rival, Takeda Pharmaceuticals' Actos -- a pattern the WSJ believes the JAMA studies will likely accelerate. Though neither of the JAMA papers directly compares the drugs, one says Actos seems to reduce patients' risk of heart attack, stroke and death while the other confirms prior studies that indicate that Avandia increases heart attack risk. In a statement, Glaxo said the papers "do not yield data robust enough to guide doctors in selecting appropriate diabetes treatments for patients." The Actos paper was a meta-analysis of 19 prior trials of the drug; the Avandia paper was a meta-analysis of four prior trials.

Sources: Glaxo response, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, Forbes
Commentary: FDA Panel: Glaxo's Avandia Can Stay on the MarketGlaxoSmithKline Wins The Latest Round on AvandiaMerck, Amilyn Should Profit From Avandia's and Actos' Problems
Stocks/ETFs to watch: GSK, OTCPK:TKPHF. Competitors: MRK, AMLN, SNY. ETFs: DBR, DPN, FEU, EKH
Earnings call transcript: GlaxoSmithKline Q2 2007

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