Avandia Questions Are Small Part of Diabetics' Worries
While the shadow over a best-selling drug put people with diabetes in the spotlight this week, members of a support group say it's just one of the many troubling health issues they face.
News that Avandia would stay on shelves didn't take center stage Thursday night for the group of mostly seniors meeting in Boca Raton simply because diabetes is an all-encompassing disease. Talk in a cozy, nautical room of Whitehall Boca, a nursing and rehabilitation center, could have lasted throughout the night.
When each member had a chance to speak, talk bounced from hospital stays to understanding medical terms and following strict diets.
One woman described overcoming a lack of motivation to deal with the disease. A man voiced his fear that he would be fired if his company learned he had diabetes.
Group members could sympathize. Some shared their own experiences with depression and remembered another member who feared she would be fired. There was playful teasing and caring questions about sick spouses.
"This is the only place where we can talk about diabetes," said Hedi Wallschlager of Deerfield Beach about the meetings. "No one else wants to hear about it,"
Avandia, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999, helps control blood sugar levels in by making patients more sensitive to their own insulin. It became the world's best-selling drug for Type 2 diabetes, but sales declined sharply after a 2007 study found it increased the risk of heart attacks. An FDA panel at the time found the study too murky to warrant pulling it off the shelves. This week, advisers said dozens of contradictory studies did not show strong enough evidence to remove the drug used by hundreds of thousands of patients.
Joe Hancock of Boca Raton said his doctor advised him not to take Avandia. "It's had a bad history," he said. He finds solace in talking with others at the meetings.