Diabetes drug withdrawn

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The Independent Online
A drug for diabetes taken by 5,000 people in the UK was withdrawn yesterday after being linked with the deaths of six people in the United States and Japan.

The drug, troglitazone (brand name Romozin), was launched two months ago as a new treatment for type-2 diabetes, which accounts for more than one million of the 1.4 million cases of diabetes in Britain.

Glaxo Wellcome, which markets the drug in the UK, said there had been 130 cases of liver damage reported worldwide among the 370,000 patients who had been taking the drug for more than three months. All had occurred, along with the six deaths from liver failure, in the US and Japan. The company said it was voluntarily withdrawing the drug while it examined the data.

The problem emerged a month ago, when Glaxo Wellcome wrote to all doctors advising a liver function test for all new patients being prescribed the drug. Simon O'Neil, of the British Diabetic Association, said there had to be a balance between risks and benefits, and the company had acted promptly on the reports of side effects. "Their decision to withdraw it now is probably wise," he said.

The association said patients should continue to take their medication to control their diabetes, but should see their own doctors as soon as possible to arrange alternative treatment. Worried patients can obtain information from the BDA Careline on 0171 636 6112.