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Troglitazone (Rezulin, Resulin, Romozin, Noscal) is an antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory drug, and a member of the drug class of the thiazolidinediones. It was prescribed for patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. It was developed by Daiichi Sankyo Co.(Japan). In the United States, it was introduced and manufactured by Parke-Davis in the late 1990s, but turned out to be associated with an idiosyncratic reaction leading to drug-induced hepatitis. One F.D.A. medical officer evaluating troglitazone, John Gueriguian, did not recommend its approval due to potential high liver toxicity, but a full panel of experts approved it in January 1997. Once the prevalence of adverse liver effects became known, troglitazone was withdrawn from the British market in December 1997, from the United States market in 2000, and from the Japanese market soon afterwards. It did not get approval in the rest of Europe.
Mechanism of action
Troglitazone is a ligand to both PPARα and – more strongly – PPARγ. Troglitazone also contains an α-tocopheroyl moiety, potentially giving it vitamin E-like activity in addition to its PPAR activation. It has been shown to reduce inflammation: troglitazone use was associated with a decrease of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) and a concomitant increase in its inhibitor (IκB). NFκB is an important cellular transcription regulator for the immune response.
Troglitazone was developed as the first anti-diabetic drug having a mechanism of action involving the enhancement of insulin sensitivity. At the time it was widely believed that such drugs, by addressing the primary metabolic defect associated with Type 2 diabetes, would have numerous benefits including avoiding the risk of hypoglycemia associated with insulin and earlier oral antidiabetic drugs. It was further believed that reducing insulin resistance would potentially reduce the very high rate of cardiovascular disease that is associated with diabetes.
Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert submitted the diabetes drug Rezulin for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) review on July 31, 1996. The medical officer assigned to the review, Dr. John L. Gueriguian, cited Rezulin's potential to harm the liver and the heart and he questioned its viability in lowering blood sugar for patients with adult-onset diabetes, recommending against the drug's approval. After complaints from the drugmaker, Gueriguian was removed on November 4, 1996 and his review was purged by the F.D.A. Gueriguian and the company had a single meeting, at which Gueriguian used "intemperate" language; The company said it's objections were based on inappropriate remarks made by Gueriguian. Parke-Davis said at the advisory committee that the risk of liver toxicity was comparable to placebo and that additional data of other studies confirmed this. According to Peter Gøtzsche, when the company provided these additional data one week after approval, they showed a substantial greater risk for liver toxicity.
The F.D.A. approved the drug on January 29, 1997, and it appeared in pharmacies in late March. At the time Dr. Solomon Sobel, a director at the F.D.A., overseeing diabetes drugs, said in a New York Times interview that adverse effects of troglitazone appeared to be rare and relatively mild.
Glaxo Wellcome P.L.C. received approval from the British Medicines Control Agency (MCA) to market troglitazone, as Romozin, in July 1997. After reports of sudden liver failure in patients receiving the drug, the Parke-Davis and the FDA added warnings to the drug label requiring monthly monitoring of liver enzyme levels. Glaxo removed troglitazone from the market in Britain on December 1, 1997. Glaxo had licensed the drug from Sankyo Company of Japan and had sold it in Britain from October 1, 1997.
On May 17, 1998, a 55-year old patient named Audrey LaRue Jones died of acute liver failure after taking troglitazone. Importantly, she had been monitored closely by physicians at the National Institutes of Health as a participant in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) diabetes prevention study. This called into question the efficacy of the monitoring strategy. The N.I.H. responded on June 4 by dropping troglitazone from the study. Dr. David J. Graham, an F.D.A. epidemiologist charged with evaluating the drug, warned on March 26, 1999 of the dangers of using it and concluded that patient monitoring was not effective in protecting against liver failure. He estimated that the drug could be linked to over 430 liver failures and that patients incurred 1,200 times greater risk of liver failure when taking Rezulin. Dr. Janet B. McGill, an endocrinologist who had assisted in the Warner–Lambert's early clinical testing of Rezulin, wrote in a March 1, 2000 letter to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.): "I believe that the company . . . deliberately omitted reports of liver toxicity and misrepresented serious adverse events experienced by patients in their clinical studies."
On March 21, 2000, the F.D.A. withdrew the drug from the market. Dr. Robert I. Misbin, an F.D.A. medical officer, wrote in a July 3, 2000 letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee of strong evidence that Rezulin could not be used safely, after having been threatened by the FDA with dismissal in March 2000. By that time the drug had been linked to 63 liver-failure deaths and had generated sales of more than $2.1 billion for Warner-Lambert. The drug cost $1,400 a year per patient in 1998. Pfizer, which had acquired Warner-Lambert in February 2000, reported the withdrawal of Rezulin cost $136 million.
In 2009 Pfizer Inc. resolved all but three of 35,000 claims over its withdrawn diabetes drug Rezulin for a total of about $750 million. Pfizer, which acquired rival Wyeth for almost $64 billion, paid about $500 million to settle Rezulin cases consolidated in federal court in New York, according to court filings. The company also paid as much as $250 million to resolve state-court suits. In 2004, it set aside $955 million to end Rezulin cases.
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