Currently 1 out of every 10 Americans suffers from diabetes and by 2050, it is projected that these numbers will rise to 1 in 3. Risk factors for developing Type II diabetes include obesity, family history, age, gestational diabetes, lifestyle, and race/ethnicity. In August, TIME Magazine published, “Is the FDA on Drugs,” an investigative article chronicling the approval of Avandia by the Federal Drug Administration. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “[Avandia] is in a class of drugs known as thiazolidinedione [and] is intended to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise to improve glucose control in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.” Avandia works by improving an individual’s sensitivity to insulin. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), insulin resistance occurs in an individual when muscle, fat and liver cells do not properly respond to insulin. This leads to an increased production of insulin and excess glucose build up in the bloodstream, which predisposes an individual to diabetes.
In 2007 the New England Journal of Medicine published an article that stated Avandia was linked to a 43% increase in heart attacks when compared to other medications or placebos. Not surprisingly, the side effects of Avandia were underplayed while its apparent ability to “treat” Type II diabetes was made to be the most important factor in its approval by the FDA.
As of September 23, 2010 the Federal Drug Administration stated that it will significantly restrict the use of Avandia to patients with Type II diabetes in response to the data that suggest an elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. Avandia has been suspended from the European market indefinitely.
After I came upon this information, I wanted to say I was surprised. Sadly, I am not. I chose Naturopathic Medicine for this very reason. I have seen first hand the debilitating effect that pharmaceutical interventions can have on an individual. I firmly believe that if we treat the whole person, and we use the least force, it is likely that we can find help a person find health without taking away from their vital force. Furthermore, it seems that the underlying cause of the development of Type II diabetes, insulin resistance, can be addressed without pharmaceutical interventions.
In a country where vacation time means five days and a Blackberry, dinner is on the go, and lifestyle changes take far too long to schedule, it is not surprising that the FDA put Avandia on the fast track to approval. Since I began my position as a Student Representative for Bioclinic Naturals, I have been amazed by the quality of products provided for this specific condition. Even with the availability of whole food derived solutions, the FDA was quick to approve such a controversial drug but the U.S. government has not yet recognized the importance of viable alternatives.
National Institutes of Health, Insulin Resistance
Centers for Disease Control