And since hypoglycemia "can have substantial negative clinical consequences" in terms of risk for death, illness, mental function and poor quality of life, preventing it is crucial, study co-author Baptist Gallwitz, of Tubingen University Hospital, said in a news release.
The study authors pointed out linagliptin was licensed in 2011 and this is the first long-term study examining its safety and effectiveness. They added more research is needed to confirm their findings.
One expert said patients and doctors may still have to balance the superiority of linagliptin against its higher cost in comparison to older drugs.
The new study provides more evidence that drugs like linagliptin "are just as good as the old standby sulfonylurea therapies, with the added benefits of inducing fewer hypoglycemic events, causing less weight gain, along with a likely decrease in cardiovascular events," said Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine, New York City.
But millions of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, so "cost issues favoring sulfonylureas may be the only reason for preferring continued sulfonylurea use," he added. The results of a larger, ongoing study currently underway may help resolve the issue of whether the newer drug is worth the extra money, Weiss said.
The study was published online June 27 in The Lancet.
The American Diabetes Association provides more information on type 2 diabetes.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: Stuart Weiss, M.D., endocrinologist, NYU Langone Medical Center, and clinical assistant professor, NYU School of Medicine, New York City; The Lancet, news release, June 27, 2012
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