Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that drugs designed to control type 2 diabetes be subjected to more thorough safety reviews. The FDA has left Avandia on the market, however, concluding that the risk of heart attack isn't higher than that associated with similar drugs.
The concern now is that worries over heart attack have led many people to leave their diabetes untreated, abandoning their medication without picking up other drugs or other means of controlling the disease, Buse said.
"A lot of people stopped their diabetes drugs and didn't start others," he said. "There's a lot of concern that those people have lost control of their diabetes."
Some excitement has been generated by another drug for type 2 diabetes named Byetta, Buse said. The injectable medication not only controls blood sugar, but has been shown to help diabetics lose weight, he said.
That's important, because studies have shown that if a person loses even a small amount of weight, they can decrease their diabetes risk, Albright said. Dropping just 5 percent to 7 percent of body weight can help.
"It's not huge amounts of body weight that people need to lose," she said. "Weight loss is the best way to head off type 2 diabetes."
But Byetta comes with its own concerns. The FDA plans to strengthen its warnings placed on the drug after two users died and four others were hospitalized, all for pancreatitis.
Buse said it's too soon to tell whether the drug's problems outweigh its benefits.
"Most of the excitement revolves around the weight loss on top of blood glucose control," he said. "We don't know whether this disease association with Byetta is really happening, because people with diabetes get more pancreatitis."
The concerns over type 2 diabetes medications make the need to prevent people from getting the disease even m
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