Researchers believe that the diabetes drug Avandia may cause bone loss and long-term use may speed up osteoporosis. The thinning of the bones is dangerous and could lead to fatal fractures. The study published in the December 2nd issue of Nature Medicine suggests that usage of rosiglitazone in the treatment of type II diabetes may cause osteoporosis.

The maker of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), disputes the osteoporosis finding. The company said in a statement today that their ADOPT studies showed no increase in spine or hip fractures which are associated with osteoporosis.

The company says they will be looking further into the subject.There are other possibly safer alternative treatments for diabetes, according to Paul Brandt, an associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “Anyone who is already at risk for osteoporotic fractures should consider an alternative anti-diabetic drug.”

Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports that Avandia affects a key cellular protein called the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR-gamma). The mice studies by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla California found that activating this receptor stimulates the production of osteoclasts. These osteoclasts degrade bone.

Avandia recently received some bad press concerning the relation of the drug with heart problems. Avandia, along with four other drugs in the same class, were given blackbox warnings by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These warnings are the strictest advisories offered by the FDA for products that they have approved. The drug was linked to heart failure in some patients.

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