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Old Diabetes Drug More Effective? Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 July 2007
A new report says that an older drug for treating the most common type of diabetes in many ways is better than new drugs on the market today.

The report does not advise doctors to stop prescribing the new drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes, because in some cases they are appropriate. The study does however recommend the drug metformin that is now sold generically under several different brands.

Jean Slutsky, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Center for Outcomes and Evidence, which commissioned the report said, "The newer drugs are not necessarily better than the older, less expensive drugs.” She also said that metformin doesn't cause weight gain and actually decreases "bad" cholesterol levels.

According to HealthDay, type 2 diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, and occurs in people who have trouble converting blood glucose into energy for cells. Obesity increases the risks for the disease, with the number of Americans diagnosed climbing from 5.6 million in 1980 to an estimated 16 million today. Diabetes can cause severe problems with the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

The report touts metformin and says thiazolidinediones and second-generation sulfonylureas produced the most serious side effects, including congestive heart failure and severe hypoglycemia -- low blood sugar. Another drug, repaglinide, was linked to less-serious forms of hypoglycemia in the elderly and people who skip meals. Although less serious, metformin has been found to cause diarrhea in some patients.

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