FDA Approves Type 2 Diabetes Drug

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

October 17, 2006

The FDA has approved a new drug that will control blood sugar levels in the body. For millions of Americans that suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, this new drug could be an answer to their prayers.

Type 2 Diabetes patients either don't produce enough insulin or the cells in the body ignore it, which leads to a life of regular blood sugar checkups or insulin shots.

However, that may change for some patients now that the FDA approved the new drug Januvia.

"There are so many people with diabetes that every tool we have we will use," said Endocrinologist, Dr. Anthony McCall at UVa.

Dr. McCall said the oral medication is manageable for most patients. The pill is called a DPP-4 inhibitor. It enhances the body's own ability to lower blood sugar levels, which is the key to helping a diabetic manage their disease.

"It keeps the insulin level at a more normal range without the high risk of low blood sugar levels as some of the older products do. That will be an advantage for some patients," Dr. McCall explained.

Clinical trials showed the new pill works just as well as older diabetes drugs, but with fewer side effects. The big one being excess weight gain, which is a common problem for Type 2 Diabetes patients.

"It's weight neutral and that's a good thing for people who are often struggling to lose weight," Dr. McCall said.

The most common side effects were upper respiratory tract infection and a sore throat. Dr. McCall believes the side effects are very minimal and very rare.

Since the drug is expected to be such a big success, two other drug makers have developed versions of the pills, which will go before the FDA later this year.

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