WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- A preliminary study
reports that people with diabetes were able to get injections of a
new insulin drug just three times a week without major ill
The findings still need to be confirmed in another phase of
research, and it's not clear how much the drug would cost if it
were approved for this use.
But those caveats aside, the study raises the possibility that
people with type 2 diabetes might be able to escape the difficult
regimens that require them to inject themselves with insulin as
often as four times a day.
"The presumption here is if you use a medication less frequently, then people are more likely to take it and remember it, especially as we multitask and try to do so many things every day," said Dr. Yogish C. Kudva, a diabetes specialist and consultant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who co-wrote a commentary accompanying publication of the study in the March 10 online edition of The Lancet.
Many people with type 2 diabetes take insulin through injections
to control their blood sugar level, but it's not a perfect
treatment. Insulin can cause weight gain and attacks of high or low
Alternative forms of insulin are currently being tested, as are
other types of diabetes drugs. The new study was a phase 2 trial to
test degludec, an experimental insulin drug made by Novo Nordisk,
which funded the research.
For the study, 245 adults with diabetes -- none of whom had
begun taking insulin -- were randomly assigned to take an existing
form of insulin daily or to take degludec, either in a daily dose
or three-times-a-week doses.
The researchers reported that, over a 16-week period, the
three-times-a-week doses controlled blood sugar about as well as
the other treatments.
Diabetes specialist Dr. Vivian Fonseca, who chairs the
endocrinology section at Tulane University Health Sciences Center,
cautioned that more research is needed to determine if people who
take the drug will face a higher risk of low blood sugar.
That's a major problem for people who currently take insulin
medications, she said, as is the unpredictability of the drugs.
"You give the same dose to the same person every day, and the next
morning you get a different result," Fonseca said. "That is
challenging for patients."
It typically takes years for a drug to go through research and
get approval from the U.S. government. The three-times-a-week
degludec needs just one more phase of research, however, meaning
that it could be on the market fairly soon if it's found to be
effective. There's no indication of how much it would cost,
although Kudva said it's fair to assume that it will be more
expensive than insulin is today.
But one thing remains clear, Kudva said: "The most effective
treatment for diabetes, a treatment that is worth doing throughout
life, is attention to diet and exercise and working on one's
weight. These are difficult to achieve, but even as every new
medication comes, there's no getting away from that."
The U.S. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse has more on
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