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Diabetes Drug Slows Clogging of Arteries
Date:3/31/2008

Actos better at fighting plaque build-up than older medication, study finds

MONDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- The diabetes drug Actos is better than another diabetes drug, Amaryl, at slowing clogging of the arteries in patients with both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The Cleveland Clinic researchers behind the new findings say this is the first time that a diabetes medication has been shown to slow atherosclerosis, giving doctors new insight into which drugs may be most effective and safest for this group of patients.

"The biggest news here is that pioglitazone [Actos] appears safe, does not increase cardiovascular risk, and may even reduce it," said Dr. Robert Scott III, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and senior staff cardiologist with Scott&White in Temple, Texas. "It looks safe to use in people with coronary artery disease, and it is well-tolerated. We may need another trial to see how it helps, but at least it doesn't hurt, and that was our biggest concern."

The findings are published in the April 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and were released Monday to coincide with a presentation at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting, in Chicago. The research was funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., which makes Actos.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes are particularly susceptible to atherosclerosis, as evidenced by the fact that 75 percent of this group eventually die of cardiovascular disease.

Amaryl (glimepiride) belongs to a class of drugs known as sulfulonylureas, which have been prescribed for decades. Actos, along with its cousin Avandia, is a thiazolidinedione, a relatively new class of diabetes drugs.

Both Actos and Avandia appear to increase the risk of heart failure (the entire class now carries a black-box warning to that ef
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