July 18, 2007

Older and Cheaper Drugs Treat Diabetes Best

People suffering from schizophrenia are at an increased risk for diabetes. Much of this risk has been attributed to medications, lifestyle, weight gain, and lack of holistic treatment. Because of this increased risk, and the fact that diabetes already impacts a large percentage of people -- 18 million Americans or 7% of the population -- understanding the best treatment option is very important.

A new review of over 200 studies on diabetes has revealed good news for those in need of medication. This is of particularly good news to people who have schizophrenia because some research suggests that some of these diabetes medications may prevent the weight gain that is common with schizophrenia (see this article: Antipsychotic Drug-induced Weight Gain Stopped With Metformin)

Old, cheap diabetes drugs — especially a generic called metformin — are as good as or better than newer, more expensive drugs at lowering blood sugar. And for the most part the older drugs don’t carry more serious side effects than the newer ones.

The review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was funded by the federal government and focused on studies that analyzed oral medications used to treat type-2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association and other groups have consistently recommended metformin (which the study found to be highly effective and cheap to the consumer) as the initial drug treatment. If it isn’t working alone, then these groups recommend combining it with another medication.

Metformin, also sold under the brand name Glucophage, costs about $100 per year, and “looks to be the safest” of the drugs, the study’s lead author told the Associated Press. But it does carry a rare side effect called lactic acidosis, and isn’t recommended for patients with heart failure or moderate kidney disease.

Read Full Research Article:

Systematic Review: Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Oral Medications for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Related Reading:

For Diabetes Drugs, Old and Cheap Are Good

Older Diabetes Drugs Seen As Good as Newer Ones

Summary of Type 2 diabetes, schizophrenia, and the use of atypical antipsychotics.


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