Over 30 lakh diabetes patients across the country were on pioglitazone drug banned last week

City doctors are receiving anxious calls from diabetic patients worried about ban on anti-diabetic drug pioglitazone.

“Pioglitazone is a good drug. The only issue is that it should be used with certain restrictions,” said Dr KP Singh, senior consultant, endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, SAS Nagar.

He said, “It is an affordable drug, which is at least 10 times cheaper as compared to other medicines. So we were prescribing it commonly.” Following the ban, now Dr Singh is getting 30-40 queries every day from his patients regarding the medicine. The medicine, Dr Singh said, should not be used for patients suffering from urinary bladder cancer, heart problems, kidney failure. “The patients can now either switch to insulin or opt for costlier yet less effective drugs,” Dr Singh said. According to experts, Pioglitazone is the second and third line of treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

According to data available, over 30-lakh diabetes patients across the country were on pioglitazone drug banned last week. The union health ministry had issued a notification announcing the ban on June 18. Along with pioglitazone, two other drugs – analgin (painkiller) and deanxit (anti-depressant) – were also banned due to alleged health risks associated with the drugs.

Doctors complained that the Indian government relied on foreign data which links urinary bladder cancer with the intake of pioglitazone. Some doctors allege that scientific evidence was ignored before banning the drug and that its benefits outweigh the risk factors.

However, Dr RJ Dash, considered a pioneer in endocrinology in the country, believes that it was a right decision to ban the medicine. “When it is established that there are serious side effects of the medicine then there is no question of continuing the sale of medicine,” he said.

He added that some physicians were using this medicine mindlessly without knowing its side effects, so it was right to stop the sale of this medicine.

Ref: HT live Chandigarh- Tuesday, July 9,2013