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Exclusive: Why did Dr. Nissen resort to secret tapes?

February 23, 2010- By Steven E. Greer, MD

Many in the cardiology community are a bit confused as to why Dr. Steven Nissen resorted to releasing his secretly recorded conversation with GlaxoSmithKline executives to the New York Times. He seemed to be winning the battle against Avandia and GSK in the press. The U.S. Senate had issued a scathing report and previous NYT articles exposed the seedy details of a Big Pharma company defending a blockbuster drug. Why did Dr. Nissen need to do something as controversial as Watergate-style secret tapes that most cardiologist found unacceptable, according to a cardiology poll?

This could be the answer. A new article published February 23, online in the prestigious journal “Circulation” comes to a different conclusion than Dr. Nissen about the safety of Avandia. Dr. Nissen has openly said on national TV that he thinks “It is time” to remove the drug from the market. The newly published science advisory from the AHA and ACC conclude that the current body of evidence does not support a conclusive safety problem for Avandia.

In a press release summarizing the article in Circulation, The AHA concluded, “If a TZD (such as pioglitazone or Avandia (rosiglitazone)) is considered for this purpose, it should not be used with an expectation of benefit in reducing the occurrence of heart attack or stroke, and the rationale for the choice of a TZD should be discussed with your physician. However, patients who have successfully achieved recommended HbA1c control on a TZD might consider remaining on their medication. If the treating physician and/or the patient is uncomfortable with using a TZD, another medication could be substituted. There is currently not enough data to support the choice of a specific TZD.”

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