Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and rosiglitazone with metformin (Avandamet) for type 2 diabetes mellitus
Published in NPS RADAR
Date published: About this date
Clinical content may change after this date. This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified health professional. Health professionals should rely on their own expertise and enquiries when providing medical advice or treatment.
This document has been updated since its original release. [Details]
- Rosiglitazone improves glycaemic control but there is a lack of evidence that it improves diabetes–related clinical complications and mortality. Prescribers should consider this — along with recently emerging safety information — when assessing the ratio of potential harms and benefits for each patient.
- Rosiglitazone is no longer indicated in combination with insulin or for triple oral therapy in combination with metformin and a sulfonylurea.
- Rosiglitazone is a third-line choice. It may still be considered as part of dual therapy when either metformin or a sulfonylurea is contraindicated or not tolerated.
- Insulin should also be considered instead of rosiglitazone in these scenarios.
- Do not use rosiglitazone in people with heart failure or a history of heart failure.
- Avoid using rosiglitazone in people with ischaemic heart disease. Take particular care when prescribing the drug to people with a high risk of cardiovascular events.
- Bear in mind the possibility that rosiglitazone may increase the risk of a myocardial infarction.
- A large clinical trial found an increased rate of fractures of the upper arm (humerus), hand and foot among women using rosiglitazone.
- Wait 8 weeks before increasing the dose, as the full effect of the drug may not be seen before this time. In clinical trials of glitazone treatment, 25% to 30% of patients had no improvement in glycaemic control.
- Establish the effective and tolerated dose of each component as single drugs before considering the rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablet. Do not use combination tablets for patients taking more than 2 g/day of metformin because the maximum recommended daily dose of rosiglitazone will be exceeded.
Rosiglitazone (Avandia) can be used in patients with type 2 diabetes whose blood glucose concentrations are inadequately controlled (HbA1c > 7%) as dual oral therapy with metformin or a sulfonylurea when combination therapy with metformin and a sulfonylurea is contraindicated or not tolerated.
Rosiglitazone is no longer PBS listed for initiation of triple oral therapy (that is, in combination with metformin and a sulfonylurea). The PBS will continue to subsidise continuing treatment with rosiglitazone for people currently stabilised on this combination until 1 February 2009. As of this date rosiglitazone will not be subsidised for triple oral therapy.
Rosiglitazone is no longer PBS listed in combination with insulin, either for initiation or continuing use. Patients currently using both rosiglitazone and insulin should be contacted as soon as possible to review their treatment regimen.
Rosiglitazone is not PBS listed for monotherapy.
Rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablets (Avandamet) can be used in patients with type 2 diabetes whose blood glucose concentrations are inadequately controlled (HbA1c > 7%) with metformin, and a sulfonylurea is contraindicated or not tolerated.
Reason for PBS listing
Rosiglitazone was recommended for listing by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) as dual oral therapy with metformin or a sulfonylurea on a cost-minimisation basis compared with insulin.1
Rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablets were recommended for listing by the PBAC on the grounds that the combination tablets were no worse than concomitant rosiglitazone and metformin.2
Listings for triple oral therapy and combination with insulin removed
The listings for triple oral therapy and combination with insulin were removed from the PBS in late 2008. This followed changes to the TGA-approved indications for rosiglitazone after a further review of existing data about the safety of rosiglitazone (see Place in therapy and Safety issues).3,4*
*The PBAC reviewed the listing for pioglitazone at its November 2008 meeting in light of the changes to the TGA-approved indications for rosiglitazone. The outcome of this review was not publicly known at the time of writing.
Place in therapy
Rosiglitazone is a thiazolidinedione ('glitazone') antidiabetic drug that should be considered a third-line choice. Metformin (or, when this is contraindicated, a sulfonylurea) is usually the drug of first choice for type 2 diabetes.
When combination therapy is required, metformin and a sulfonylurea is the combination of first choice.
Rosiglitazone can be considered when either metformin or a sulfonylurea is contraindicated or not tolerated.5
Rosiglitazone's effect on morbidity and mortality is uncertain
Most of the clinical trials of rosiglitazone have measured surrogate outcomes such as effects on HbA1c levels, lipids or insulin sensitivity and were not long term. As such, there is a lack of evidence that rosiglitazone improves diabetes-related clinical complications and mortality.6 One large trial is in progress comparing the cardiovascular outcomes of patients with type 2 diabetes using rosiglitazone and metformin or a sulfonylurea with those of patients using metformin and a sulfonylurea.7
Lifestyle changes remain important
Healthy eating, exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation reduce cardiovascular risk and improve glycaemic control in people with diabetes. If glycaemic control has deteriorated, assess the patient's adherence to lifestyle changes and reinforce their importance as adjunctive therapy.
Metformin with a sulfonylurea is the combination of first choice
Metformin improves glycaemic control and reduces the incidence of macrovascular complications and death among patients with type 2 diabetes.8 The sulfonylureas and insulin improve glycaemic control and reduce the incidence of microvascular complications in diabetes.9
Metformin plus a sulfonylurea is the preferred combination because of evidence that it reduces diabetic complications, because it is probably more cost-effective and because clinicians have many years of experience using these agents.
Metformin is contraindicated in people with severe renal impairment or other risk factors for lactic acidosis. It may also cause gastrointestinal adverse effects such as diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal bloating, but these are often transient and it is not usually necessary to stop the drug.10
Hypoglycaemia is the most common adverse effect with sulfonylureas but can be minimised by splitting or reducing the daily dose. The elderly are at greater risk of hypoglycaemia, so shorter–acting agents such as gliclazide or glipizide are preferred.
Rosiglitazone with metformin as a fixed-dose combination tablet
For people already stabilised on rosiglitazone and metformin, rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablets can be considered if there is an equivalent strength of the combination tablet. Combination tablets should not be used to initiate therapy for diabetes in patients who have not previously used an oral antidiabetic.
Rosiglitazone is no longer approved for triple oral therapy
Rosiglitazone is no longer approved for use in combination with metformin and a sulfonylurea (i.e. triple oral therapy) because of an increased risk of heart failure.11 The PBS will subsidise rosiglitazone for people stabilised on triple oral therapy that includes rosiglitazone until 1 February 2009. As of this date rosiglitazone will not be subsidised for triple oral therapy.
If dual therapy with metformin and a sulfonylurea fails, consider adding insulin, as it reduces the risk of diabetes complications.9 Do not delay introducing insulin when oral drug therapy no longer controls blood glucose. For information on initiating insulin see NPS News 56: Managing hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetes.
Other third-line oral antidiabetic drugs include pioglitazone†, repaglinide (not PBS listed), sitagliptin or acarbose but the long-term benefit–harm profiles of these drugs are yet to be established. See the NPS RADAR reviews of pioglitazone and sitagliptin for further information on these agents.
†The PBAC reviewed the listing for pioglitazone at its November 2008 meeting in light of the changes to the TGA-approved indications for rosiglitazone. The outcome of this review was not publicly known at the time of writing.
Do not combine rosiglitazone and insulin
Do not start or continue rosiglitazone in people using insulin, because of the increased risk of congestive heart failure, weight gain and oedema (particularly at a daily dose of 8 mg).12 Meta-analyses from both the US Food and Drug Administration and the manufacturer showed a trend towards a doubling of the risk of an ischaemic event or heart failure when rosiglitazone was combined with insulin (compared with adding placebo to insulin).11,13
Avoid using rosiglitazone in people with ischaemic heart disease and take particular care when prescribing it to people with a high risk of cardiovascular events.
Hypoglycaemia is uncommon with rosiglitazone alone but may occur when it is combined with a sulfonylurea; adjust the dose of sulfonylurea to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia (see Dosing issues).
Report suspected adverse reactions to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) online or by using the 'Blue Card' distributed with Australian Prescriber. For information about reporting adverse reactions, see the TGA website.
Rosiglitazone may increase risk of cardiovascular events
Do not prescribe rosiglitazone to people with ischaemic heart disease. Take particular care when prescribing the drug to people with a high risk of cardiovascular events.
Recent meta-analyses, including one performed by the manufacturer, have raised concerns about a potential increase in risk of myocardial ischaemia among people treated with rosiglitazone.11,13–15 The risk appears greater for people taking rosiglitazone in combination with insulin or in those taking nitrates.11,13 While 3 large randomised trials (some of which were included in some of the meta-analyses) did not report a significant increase in the risk of myocardial infarction, their wide confidence intervals do not rule out such a risk.16–18
Some additional information on rosiglitazone is provided by 3 large studies of the impact of intensive glucose lowering on cardiovascular outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes with, or at high risk of, cardiovascular disease. None of these studies specifically investigated the effect of rosiglitazone on cardiovascular outcomes, so no clear conclusions about its use can be made.
The ACCORD trial found a significant increase in all-cause mortality and death from cardiovascular causes in the intensive treatment arm compared with standard treatment.19 The ADVANCE trial did not find an increased risk of cardiovascular events or all-cause mortality.20 Rosiglitazone use was more common in the ACCORD trial (91% in the intensive treatment arm and 57% in the standard treatment arm) than in the ADVANCE trial (fewer than 20% in both arms). However, a post-hoc analysis did not identify rosiglitazone as contributing to the increased mortality seen in the ACCORD study19 and the different results in the ADVANCE and ACCORD trials might be due to differences in baseline HbA1c, the different blood glucose targets (ACCORD: HbA1c < 6.0% vs ADVANCE: HbA1c < 6.5%) or the pace of glucose lowering, rather than differences in glitazone use.20
The third trial, the Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial (VADT), is yet to publish its results.
The possibility of increased cardiovascular risk with rosiglitazone should be borne in mind until further evidence becomes available.
For further information see the NPS fact sheet Rosiglitazone and cardiac risk
Fluid retention, peripheral oedema and the risk of heart failure
Rosiglitazone should not be used in patients with heart failure (NYHA I–IV) or a history of heart failure.12 The risk of new or exacerbated heart failure increases in people with type 2 diabetes taking rosiglitazone.15,18
Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease and congestive heart failure.21 Glitazones are associated with fluid retention and oedema that could exacerbate existing heart failure or precipitate it in people at risk.6,22
Oedema is more common when glitazones are used in combination therapy (3% to 6% of patients in rosiglitazone trials) and most likely when glitazones are used with insulin (13% to 16% when rosiglitazone is combined with insulin).21,23
Assess risk factors for heart failure before prescribing glitazones — both medical (e.g. history of heart failure, myocardial infarction or coronary heart disease; hypertension; left ventricular hypertrophy; age > 70 years; diabetes for > 10 years) and pharmacological (e.g. use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, calcium-channel blockers, insulin).21
Weight gain is a problem
Weight gain is associated with all glitazones and is dose dependent.24 Gains of up to 5 kg were seen in clinical trials6 and even greater gains occurred when rosiglitazone was combined with sulfonylureas.24
Weight continued to increase for as long as data were recorded in trials (up to 84 weeks).25 Reinforce the importance of lifestyle measures in limiting weight gain caused by medications.
Rosiglitazone appears to increase the risk of peripheral fractures among women
A significantly greater risk of fracture in women taking rosiglitazone has been reported in 1 large clinical trial (n = 4360). The prevalence of fractures among women taking rosiglitazone was 9.3%, compared with 5.1% of women taking metformin (relative risk [RR] 1.83, p < 0.01) and 3.5% of women taking glibenclamide (RR 2.68, p < 0.01).16 Fractures were most common in the upper arm (humerus), hand and foot.
Decreases in hip bone mineral density (BMD) have been reported in non-diabetic postmenopausal women during a 14–week randomised trial of rosiglitazone (n = 50).26 One observational study has suggested that the glitazones may cause bone loss among elderly women but not elderly men.27
Glitazones may cause or worsen macular oedema
A small number of postmarketing reports have suggested that there may be an association between the glitazones and the development or worsening of diabetic macular oedema, resulting in a decrease in visual acuity.12,28 Any changes in vision reported by patients taking rosiglitazone should be investigated.
Remain vigilant for signs of liver toxicity
The first available glitazone, troglitazone, was withdrawn because of liver toxicity. The risk appears to be significantly lower with rosiglitazone but several case reports exist for both rosiglitazone and pioglitazone, including elevated liver enzyme levels, hepatocellular damage, hepatitis and liver failure.25,29,30
Patients with liver disease (including increased transaminase levels > 2.5 times the upper limit of normal) should not be started on glitazone therapy.12,29
Glitazone-induced liver toxicity is unpredictable. Liver function tests are recommended before starting a glitazone and every 2 months for the first year, then periodically or when clinically indicated.31 However, monitoring liver function should not be viewed as always identifying the problem effectively: in some cases of troglitazone liver toxicity, normal enzyme concentrations progressed to irreversible liver failure within 1 month.32 If a patient presents with symptoms suggesting liver disease, this should be seriously considered and investigated.
No significant drug interactions have been reported with rosiglitazone. However, there is evidence that potential interactions could occur if rosiglitazone is combined with other drugs metabolised by the enzyme CYP2C8, such as rifampicin and trimethoprim (inducers of CYP2C8) and gemfibrozil (an inhibitor of CYP2C8).33 Use caution if combining rosiglitazone with other drugs metabolised by CYP2C8. Ketoconazole may also interact with rosiglitazone.34
There is an increased risk of hypoglycaemia when rosiglitazone is combined with sulfonylureas or insulin.
Because they induce fluid retention, combining rosiglitazone with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs carries a potential increased risk of oedema and heart failure.30
The recommended dose of rosiglitazone is 4–8 mg/day. Patients should start at the lower dose of 4 mg/day, particularly those at risk of hypoglycaemia. Metformin should be titrated to the highest tolerable dose before starting rosiglitazone. Consider the rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablet only after the effective and tolerated dose of the individual components has been established. The available doses of rosiglitazone are shown in Table 1.
Dose strengths and appearance of rosiglitazone and rosiglitazone/metformin
|Doses||Tablet: colour, shape|
|4 mg||Orange, pentagonal shape|
|8 mg||Red–brown, pentagonal shape|
|2 mg/500 mg||Light pink, oval|
|2 mg/1000 mg||Yellow, oval|
|4 mg/500 mg||Orange, oval|
|4 mg/1000 mg||Pink, oval|
Consider whether the available strengths of the combination tablets allow the appropriate dose of metformin to be given. Patients taking metformin doses of more than 2000 mg/day should not be prescribed the combination tablet, as the maximum recommended daily dose is rosiglitazone 8 mg / metformin 2000 mg. 35
Allow time for response before increasing dose
Rosiglitazone doses should not be increased before 8 weeks have elapsed; in most glitazone trials it has usually taken between 8 and 18 weeks for the full glycaemic response to be seen at any given dose. As HbA1c testing is recommended 3-monthly in patients whose therapy has changed or who are not meeting glycaemic goals, this seems an appropriate point to scrutinise the patient's response and consider if any modifications to therapy are necessary. If patients continue to show no effect after increasing the dose, rosiglitazone should be stopped.
Information for patients
Advise patients of emerging risks that may be associated with rosiglitazone. Advise patients that improvements in glycaemic control may take at least 8 weeks and ask them to:
- monitor for weight gain or ankle oedema
- report any symptoms of heart failure (such as breathlessness during daily activities)
- report signs of liver toxicity (nausea/vomiting, jaundice, dark urine, right upper abdominal discomfort).
- Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority. Therapeutic relativity sheets. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2007. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pbs-general-pricing-therelativity.htm (accessed 2 August 2007).
- Pharmaceutical Benefits Branch. Public Summary Document for Rosiglitazone Maleate with Metformin Hydrochloride, July 2006. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2006. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pbac-psd-rosiglitazone-july06 (accessed 2 August 2007).
- Department of Health and Ageing. Changes to listings for ROSIGLITAZONE MALEATE (Avandia®) and ROSIGLITAZONE MALEATE with METFORMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (Avandamet®). Department of Health and Ageing, 2008. http://www.pbs.gov.au/html/healthpro/news/article?id=NEWS-2008-08-20-Listing_amendment_avandia_avandamet.xml&page-referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pbs.gov.au%2Fhtml%2Fhealthpro%2Fnews%2Fmore%3F (accessed 10 Oct 2008).
- GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd. Media Release 20 Aug 2008 — Changes to product information for medicines containing rosiglitazone (Avandia and Avandamet) GlaxoSmithKline Australia, 2008. http://www.gsk.com.au/media-centre_detail.aspx?view=263 (accessed 5 September 2008).
- National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Guidance on the use of glitazones for the treatment of type 2 diabetes: Technology Appraisal 63. London: National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2003.http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/TA63_Glitazones_Review_Guidance.pdf (accessed 2 August 2007).
- Richter B, Bandeira-Echtler E, Bergerhoff K, et al. Rosiglitazone for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;3:CD006063. [PubMed]
- Home PD, Pocock SJ, Beck-Nielsen H, et al. Rosiglitazone Evaluated for Cardiac Outcomes and Regulation of Glycaemia in Diabetes (RECORD): study design and protocol. Diabetologia 2005;48:1726–35. [PubMed]
- UKPDS Group. Effect of intensive blood-glucose control with metformin on complications in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes. Lancet 1998;352:854–65. [PubMed]
- UKPDS Group. Intensive blood glucose control with sulphonylureas or insulin compared with conventional treatment and risk of complications in patients with type 2 diabetes. Lancet 1998;352:837–53. [PubMed]
- DeFronzo RA. Pharmacologic therapy for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ann Intern Med 1999;131:281–303. [PubMed]
- Cobitz A, Zambanini A, Sowell M, et al. A retrospective evaluation of congestive heart failure and myocardial ischemia events in 14,237 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus enrolled in 42 short-term, double-blind, randomized clinical studies with rosiglitazone. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2008;17:769–81. [PubMed]
- GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd. Avandia product information 14 August 2008. Australia.
- Mele J. Statistical Review and Evaluation – Avandia (rosiglitazone), 2007. http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/AC/07/briefing/2007-4308b1-02-fda-backgrounder.pdf (accessed 27 July 2007).
- Nissen SE, Wolski K. Effect of rosiglitazone on the risk of myocardial infarction and death from cardiovascular causes. N Engl J Med 2007;356:2457–71. [PubMed]
- Singh S, Loke YK, Furberg CD. Long-term risk of cardiovascular events with rosiglitazone: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2007;298:1189–95. [PubMed]
- Kahn SE, Haffner SM, Heise MA, et al. Glycemic durability of rosiglitazone, metformin, or glyburide monotherapy. N Engl J Med 2006;355:2427–43. [PubMed]
- Gerstein HC, Yusuf S, Bosch J, et al. Effect of rosiglitazone on the frequency of diabetes in patients with impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2006;368:1096–105. [PubMed]
- Home PD, Pocock SJ, Beck-Nielsen H, et al. Rosiglitazone evaluated for cardiovascular outcomes — an interim analysis. N Engl J Med 2007;357:28–38. [PubMed]
- Gerstein HC, Miller ME, Byington RP, et al. Effects of intensive glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2008;358:2545–59. [PubMed]
- Patel A, MacMahon S, Chalmers J, et al. Intensive blood glucose control and vascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2008;358:2560–72. [PubMed]
- Nesto RW, Bell D, Bonow RO, et al. Thiazolidinedione use, fluid retention, and congestive heart failure: a consensus statement from the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. October 7, 2003. Circulation 2003;108:2941-8. [PubMed]
- FDA Medwatch. Information for Healthcare Professionals — Rosiglitazone maleate (marketed as Avandia, Avandamet, and Avandaryl). Rockville, Maryland: Food and Drug Administration, 2007. http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/InfoSheets/HCP/rosiglitazone200707HCP.htm (accessed 3 September 2007).
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Updated July 2011: removal of streamlined PBS authority.
Updated November 2008: revocation of the triple therapy listing and addition of further contraindications.
Updated October 2007: fracture and cardiovascular risk, rosiglitazone with metformin combination tablet, use of insulin and rosiglitazone.
Updated June 2005: use in combination with insulin.
Updated February 2005: use in combination with metformin and a sulfonylurea.
Updated November 2004: simplified requirements for glitazone continuation.
First published April 2004.