Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 27, 2007

An interesting resource

Might even add it to the sidebar. Pharmalot is a blog, essentially, about the pharmaceutical industry, maintained by journalist Ed Silverman. Here's a current post about the Avandia story, with all the links that are fit to post. As you may not know if you depend on newspapers and TV for your news, there's an FDA panel meeting scheduled for Monday to decide the drug's fate, but it turns out the panel won't be considering Steve Nissen's meta-analysis that found Avandia increases the risk of heart attacks, which is what set off the whole controversy in the first place. (It figures.)

To review, Avandia is a drug for Type 2 diabetes that was approved on the basis of laboratory tests that showed it lowered blood sugar. But it was never shown in clinical trials to actually improve people's health or longevity. That's what's called a "surrogate" endpoint and a lot of drugs are approved on the basis of such measures. The drug companies like it because it's cheaper and quicker than waiting around a few years to see if the people who take the drug die. But too often, we find out after the drug has been approved, and we've had those few years, that yup, they croak after all.

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