Archive for June 11th, 2012
These days, I hear a lot about pills and other medications used in treating type 2 diabetes. Often, it is about some amazing drug that is in development or a drug about to be made available.
Then there are times when the news is about side effects, lawsuits and type 2 diabetes drugs that are pulled off the market.
Today’s blog post is from my friends at Drug Watch.
Taking Diabetes Medication Safely
The diabetes medications on the market today can do some things well, but unfortunately some of them come with a long list of side effects — some quite serious.
The goal of every diabetes drug taken orally is the same: to lower glucose levels in the blood. Ideally, the pill will supplement healthy diet and exercise habits. Sometimes doctors will prescribe two or more drugs to be taken together.
Patients will want to keep an eye out for any drug in the class known as thiazolidinediones or glitazones. These drugs aim to help insulin work better and reduce glucose production.
The first drug in this class — Rezulin — was pulled from the U.S. market in 2000 after causing serious liver problems. The other two drugs in this class — Actos and Avandia — were welcomed with great fanfare but were unfortunately quick to show signs of risks as well.
In 2011, the medication Actos was pulled off the market in France and Germany after serious side effects were revealed, including:
- A 40 percent increase in the risk of bladder cancer if patients take the drug for more than a year.
- Increased risk of heart failure and heart attack.
- Increased risk of broken bones among post-menopausal women.
- A three- to six-fold increase in risk of an eye disease called macular edema.
- Increased risk of liver failure.
In the U.S., the FDA has decided to wait for more data before taking further action on Actos. Meanwhile, hundreds of patients have filed Actos lawsuits after saying they were not adequately warned about the dangers of taking the drug.
Avandia has also been found to cover a variety of serious side effects, including:
- A 43 percent increase risk of heart attack.
- Increased risk of liver failure.
- Increased risk of broken bones for women.
The FDA has severely restricted the use of Avandia, making it available only through a special program.
Other Diabetes Medications
There are five other types of oral medications that can help type 2 diabetics. All of them can lead to low blood sugar, weight gain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an increase in “bad” cholesterol (LDL):
- Sulfonylureas help the pancreas release more insulin and are sold under the following brand names: Glucotrol, Micronase, Glynase, Diabeta and Amaryl.
- Meglitinides also stimulate the pancreas to release insulin and include Prandin and Starlix.
- Biguanides lower blood glucose levels by cutting the amount of glucose produced by the liver and making cells more sensitive to insulin. Metformin (glucophage) is a biguanide.
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors lower glucose levels by blocking the breakdown of starches and some sugars in the intestine. Precose and Glyset fall into this category.
- DPP-4 inhibitors allow a naturally occurring compound called GLP-1 to remain in the body longer. This compound reduces blood glucose levels.
Consumers should make sure they collect all the facts on their prescription to avoid risks like Actos side effects. Consultations with your doctor should always include going over the potential side effects associated with medications.
Author bio: Barb Stephens is a writer for Drugwatch.com. She uses her knowledge about medications to help promote drug safety and to keep consumers and patients informed.