The drug Avandia, also known as rosiglitazone, has been found to possibly have links to osteoporosis, a condition which causes bone fragility and bone loss.
Avandia which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, has already been found to raise a patient’s risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
According to Professor Ron Evans from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, research on mice given the drug showed an increased production of cells that act to break down bones in the body.
Evans says it was already known that Avandia causes bone loss by inhibiting bone formation, but the study identified an additional mechanism whereby Avandia promotes bone resorption, the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release minerals.
These apparently are the two parts of a checks-and-balance system that keeps bones healthy and Avandia appears to weaken both sides of the balance mechanism, leading to an increased risk for osteoporosis.
Professor Evans says the long term use of Avandia for people with type 2 diabetes, can lead to bone fragility and osteoporosis.
He says the study has led to a better understanding of the challenges associated with long-term treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Evans also says because Avandia is effective in controlling glucose and restoring the body’s sensitivity to insulin, people should not stop their treatment but balance the benefits against the complications.
Worldwide millions of people are living with diabetes and many of them are taking Avandia to help control their blood sugar.
Experts say there are many alternatives and anyone already at risk for osteoporotic fractures should consider an alternative anti-diabetic drug.
The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health and is published in the journal Nature.