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Hagerstown doctor speaks on CBS amid Avandia controversy

July 13, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Dr. Mary Money
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HAGERSTOWN -- As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers removing a controversial diabetes drug from the market, a Hagerstown doctor who spoke out years ago about potential dangers is in the spotlight again.

Dr. Mary Money, an internist, was on "CBS Evening News" on Monday, talking about the effects she and a colleague noticed in patients who took Avandia, a drug used to control blood-sugar levels.

Starting in 1999, Money and Dr. Stephen Lippman found a connection between the use of Avandia and a higher rate of congestive heart failure among 33 local patients.

Money contacted the drug's manufacturer, but the doctors' findings were downplayed and the company told her not to spread the hypothesis to other doctors, she has said.

"I tried to take care of the patients," Money said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I was trying to save lives."

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She said patients shouldn't be afraid to report symptoms to physicians, and physicians should speak out when they see problems.

An FDA advisory committee met Tuesday to talk about Avandia and was scheduled to meet again Wednesday.

Avandia now carries a strong FDA warning. GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the drug, has said it's safe.

In 2008, GlaxoSmithKline spokesman Jeffrey McLaughlin said the drug had a warning about congestive heart failure from the time it hit the market in 1999, before Money spoke up.

The company objected to Money implying a causal relationship that hadn't been established and that conflicted with available data, McLaughlin said in 2008.

Two weeks ago, The Associated Press reported that a new study by a federal drug safety expert ties Avandia to a higher risk of heart problems, strokes and deaths in older adults.

As many as 100,000 heart attacks, strokes, deaths and cases of heart failure might be due to Avandia since it came on the market in 1999, Dr. David Graham, the lead author of the study, told The Associated Press.

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