Popular type 2 diabetes medication will be removed from shelves this fall

Since it was first introduced in 1999, the drug Avandia has been prescribed to many individuals with type 2 diabetes as a treatment to help lower blood sugar levels.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the diabetes medication will be removed from retail shelves in November, due to research that showed the pills may increase a patient's risk of experiencing a heart attack, according to a recent article published by USA Today.

The newspaper reported that beginning November 18, prescriptions for Avandia will only be available through select healthcare providers who will be required to inform patients of risks associated with the drug. In addition, people with type 2 diabetes will have to fill their prescriptions through a limited selection of pharmacies that will send out the medications by mail.

Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told the news provider that he published an analysis in 2007, which highlighted research findings that showed Avandia increased heart attack risk by about 40 percent in people with type 2 diabetes. He noted that these results may be especially concerning, since individuals with type 2 diabetes often have a number of risk factors for heart attack, such as obesity or high blood pressure.

Also in that year, FDA drug safety expert David Graham informed an advisory committee that Avandia had been connected to cardiovascular problems, including death, in as many as 200,000 people, the news provider reported.

Patients who will no longer take Avandia may consider using different diabetes medications or implementing lifestyle changes to help manage their blood sugar levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are six different types of pills that may help individuals with type 2 diabetes lower their blood glucose readings, including sulfonylureas, meglitinides, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and DPP-4 inhibitors.