Thursday, July 08, 2010

FDA Takes Control Of Avandia Debate

Score one for FDA.

As "Avandia Week" approaches, FDA made a decision to wrestle control of the debate over the safety and efficacy of Glaxo's diabetes drug rosiglitazone by offering the media an embargoed preview of the agency's briefing documents for the two-day advisory committee meeting on July 13-14.

The decision to let reporters look at the documents early was smart, effective and stands in marked contrast to how the debate on Avandia played out in 2007.

In 2007, the meta-analysis conducted by Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steve Nissen, which showed a increased risk of cardiovascular events linked to Avandia, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on May 21, 2007. A few days later, a House Oversight & Government Reform hearing, led by then-Chairman Henry Waxman, was scheduled before FDA ever publicly commented on the findings. On June 6, 2007, the hearing took place.

This time around, FDA has been effective, among other media savy strategies, in granting interviews in response to the Nissen meta-analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Medicare beneficiary study comparing Avandia to Takeda's Actos conducted by FDA drug safety official David Graham in the Journal of the Amercian Medical Association.

But allowing access to the briefing documents before they were made public was probably the best stroke yet by the agency. Reporters typically get an email from FDA that the briefing documents are made public, then they have about 10 minutes to "read" 300-400 pages of FDA's in-depth analysis and write a short piece for the wires and mainstream media news sites that capture the essence of FDA's point of view.

Instead, FDA gave journalists a full day and access to FDA deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein and drug center director Janet Woodcock, among other officials, to digest the briefing documents and pose questions to the agency officials. Brilliant.

There's no doubt that Nissen and Graham know how to make news. But FDA, as a whole, has been equal to the challenge in both ensuring that outside voices--and voices from within--are heard while simultaneously communicating the facts on Avandia as agency leadership views them.

1 comment:

Jason West said...

Well, this is a great move of FDA and they need to take control of Avandia Debate. This is a serious issue and regulatory bodies must come forward to make sure the safety and efficacy of Avandia. After all it is the matter of lives and deaths.