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Actos Cut Risk of Prediabetes Becoming Diabetes in Study
Date:3/23/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that taking the diabetes drug Actos helped people who had prediabetes avoid getting type 2 diabetes.

"Pioglitazone [Actos] was extremely effective in preventing diabetes," said study author Dr. Ralph DeFronzo, deputy director of the Texas Diabetes Institute and chief of the diabetes division at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The actual reduction in risk was 72 percent.

"The reason that people go from prediabetes to diabetes is that the insulin-producing beta cells fail. By the time someone is diagnosed with prediabetes, they may have lost 70 percent to 80 percent of beta cell function. Pioglitazone improves how the body responds to insulin and protects the beta cells from failing," he explained.

The study, which was funded by the drug's manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is published in the March 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 79 million Americans may have prediabetes, with about half of those cases in people older than 65. Changes in lifestyle -- losing 5 percent of body weight and exercising at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week -- often helps prevent prediabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes. However, most people aren't able to maintain those lifestyle changes over the long term, DeFronzo noted.

After diet and exercise, the next recommended therapy is a drug called metformin. "Metformin can reduce the risk of diabetes by about 30 percent," said Dr. Vivian Fonseca, president-elect of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association.

The current study was designed to assess whether or not Actos was more effective than a placebo in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study included 602 people over the age of 18 who had b
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