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New Drug May Trim Insulin Injections to Just 3 a Week
Date:3/9/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

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 effects.

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 blood sugar.

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 Healt
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