A six-member expert panel has been set up by the Health Ministry to decide on a ban of a diabetic drug found to be increasing the risk of heart attack and death.

The move comes in the backdrop of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finding that the diabetes drug Rosiglitazone, used by a large number of Indians, was increasing the risk of heart attack and causing deaths.

The members in the panel include head of pharmacology department of AIIMS and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) as well as Director of Indian Veterinary Research Institute and officials from Indian Council of Medical Research and Indian Medical Association.

“The committee will decide what to do after reviewing the data,” a senior official said.

Following a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the FDA had on May 21, 2007, issued an alert against the possible side-effects of the drug.

Rosiglitazone is an anti-diabetic drug in the thiazolidinedione class of drugs. It works as an insulin sensitizer, by binding to the Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPAR) in fat cells and making the cells more responsive to insulin.

An American Senate committee last week said that GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia, the brandname for Rosiglitazone, poses increased risk of heart attacks, a conclusion which has been rejected by the pharma major.