The scientists analyzed data from 22 clinical trials involving 6,200 patients who were prescribed pioglitazone -- a member of the thiazolidinediones class of drugs, which theoretically increase the body's natural insulin supply -- for type 2 diabetes. The authors reported no evidence that the drug had a positive impact on patients, but they did note an increase in edema and heart failure among pioglitazone users.
"The kernel from this review is that pioglitazone is effective in glucose-lowering, has some other beneficial and potentially harmful associated features, and just has not been evaluated in the right way to prove that it will help people lead longer and more productive lives," said Dr. John Buse, director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. "This is true for essentially every drug available for the treatment of diabetes. I am fairly certain that we are better off with pioglitazone than without it."
Buse said that, while the report's findings are not incorrect, more data would be required to truly assess the drug. The report recommended that pioglitazone only be prescribed to patients showing real benefit from the therapy.
"Only in Western medicine would doctors respond to a study that finds a drug to be useless with the assertion that more testing is needed, or that the drug was not evaluated correctly," said health advocate Mike Adams. "If it had been a vitamin or supplement found to be useless and harmful, it would have been pulled of the shelf immediately, no questions asked. It's quite a double standard."