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Monday, December 1, 1997 Published at 19:57 GMT


Diabetes drug withdrawn from sale
image: [ About 5,000 people in Britain are believed to be taking the drug Romozin ]
About 5,000 people in Britain are believed to be taking the drug Romozin

A diabetes drug introduced into the United Kingdom last year has been temporarily withdrawn from sale amid fears that it may have been involved in several deaths.

The pharmaceutical group Glaxo Wellcome voluntarily suspended availability of the drug Romozin after reports of serious side-effects in the United States and Japan.

The company reports a number of patients experiencing liver problems after taking the drug.

There have been six deaths linked to the Romozin so far, four in Japan and two in the USA. It is estimated that 5,000 patients in Britain have been prescribed the drug, used to treat Type II diabetes.

Romozin, the brand name of the drug troglitazone, was first sold in Britain on October 1.

Glaxo Wellcome has an agreement to distribute Romozin in the UK and Europe under licence from the Japanese drug company Sankyo.

So far, Glaxo has only marketed the product in the UK. A pending European licence application has been withdrawn.

A spokesman for the company said: "There has been quite a significant increase in reported adverse effects including a number of deaths. As always one has to balance risks and benefits, but we believe the best thing to do is to suspend the product, look at the data and make a further judgment at a future date."

The British Diabetic Association, which represents diabetes sufferers, said it was concerned about the problems with the drug.

A spokesman said: "We recommend that anyone already taking troglitazone should continue to take their medication to control their diabetes but should see their own doctors as soon as possible to arrange alternative treatment."

Further information can be obtained from the BDA Careline on (+44 171) 636 6112.

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