No more Avandia

The popular prescription diabetes drug Avandia will only be available in very limited distribution as of November 18, 2011. Avandia has been on the market for more than a decade, but a 2007 study indicated that it increased heart attack risk in patients with type 2 diabetes by about 40 percent. Also in 2007 David Graham, a drug safety expert with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reported that Avandia had caused heart-related problems in 66,000-200,000 people.

The drug will be available only to patients who have had safe and effective treatment with the drug and to those whose conditions cannot be managed with other drugs. It will also be available to those who are aware of the risk yet still want to take Avandia. Only certified doctors will be able to prescribe Avandia, and the prescriptions can only be filled by particular pharmacies via mail order.

Critics say the FDA took too long implementing the new restrictions. For more on this story, see this article.