Battle lines are being drawn two weeks before a highly unusual two-day FDA advisory committee meeting to discuss the contentious diabetes drug rosiglitazone (Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline). This will be the second time an FDA panel has wrestled with the fate of the drug and expectations have been that the discussion will once again be heated.
But at least one source of fierce criticism won’t be participating in the panel. Steve Nissen, who originally raised concerns about the drug and who has remained the most consistent critic of the drug, will not participate in the deliberations or present to the committee. Early on Thursday Nissen contributed a blog post on Forbes accusing the FDA of stacking the committee in favor of rosiglitazone. The FDA leadership, he says, is trying to use the meeting to “whitewash” its reputation:
GlaxoSmithKline said that “many inaccuracies exist in Dr. Nissen’s commentary and need to be addressed.” The company specifically denied the multitude of reports over the years that it had suppressed negative data about rosiglitazone over the years. The GSK response offers one potentially very important piece of news. The main focus of the June 5-6 hearing will be the re-adjudication of the RECORD trial performed by the Duke Clinical Research Institute. No public disclosure of the results of the re-adjudication have been made, and in the normal course of events the details of the re-adjudication, along with the rest of the committee’s briefing documents, would appear two days before the start of the hearing on the FDA website. But FDA staff, advisory panel members, and the drug sponsor (GSK) have almost certainly already seen the re-adjudication. In its statement, GSK flatly states that the re-adjudication confirms the safety of rosiglitazone:
The RECORD study is the largest clinical trial designed to evaluate the cardiovascular safety of Avandia. The study conclusions have now been confirmed through a re-examination by one of the leading independent institutions in the country (Duke Clinical Research Institute). In the accepted hierarchy of evidence generation, the results of a randomized, controlled clinical trial usually take precedence over other forms of evidence such as meta-analysis and observational studies. Despite some limitations of trial design, including the open label nature of the study, RECORD remains the only randomized trial of cardiovascular outcomes for Avandia at this time. The confirmation of the RECORD results by the independent re-examination support a positive risk/benefit profile for Avandia for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in appropriate patients.
It remains to be seen whether this is more RECORD spinning or an accurate summary of the Duke re-adjudication.