Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that Avandia and Actos, two drugs that control type 2 diabetes, can almost double the risk for hip fractures in women.

Both medications—rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos)—belong to a class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones. This is not the first time that these drugs have made headlines. In 2007, it was found that those who took rosiglitazone were at increased risk for heart attack. The FDA required warnings about heart attack and congestive heart failure to be added to rosiglitazone's label.

In the pharmaceutical industry, drugs are monitored through a practice known as postmarketing surveillance. Health-care professionals and the public voluntarily let the FDA know about any adverse effects experienced while using a drug. Manufacturers also are required to report any adverse events involving their drugs. Neither system is reliable. The disturbing new findings about Avandia and Actos emphasize the need for more rigorous monitoring and reporting of side effects.

Many patients with diabetes can reduce or eliminate the need for medication with proper diet and exercise, along with certain natural supplements including chromium ginseng... and PolyGlycoplex (also known as PGX), a blend of fiber including glucomannan and Pycnogenol (extract from pine bark). If you must take medication to control your diabetes, talk to your physician about drugs other than Avandia and Actos. Metformin Glucophage) has a long history as a reliable diabetes medication.

Are You Taking Byetta?

A few people with diabetes taking the drug Byetta have died after developing pancreatitis. There have been about six reported deaths involving pancreatitis among the one million people who have used Byetta since the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in 2005.

But: The pancreatitis may not have caused the deaths-one patient weighed more than 400 pounds and had extensive gallstones...another had a relapse of leukemia.

Bottom line: No drug is completely safe. In this particular drug's case, the benefits may far outweigh the risks.

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