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Diabetes on the Rise among Filipinos

The health indicator statistics of the Department of Health (DOH) has found that diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death// in the Philippines, affecting 1 out of 25 Filipinos. An estimated 3.36 million Filipinos are affected by the disease today. This number is is expected to rise to about 8 million in about 20 years.

Dr. Rosa Allyn Sy, president of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (PSEM), said the 1997 Food and Nutrition Research Institute survey conducted by DOH, found that there are 2.8 million Filipinos who were diagnosed with diabetes. From 1993 to 1997, 2.1 percent of the deaths recorded are due to diabetes and annually the cases of diabetes continue to increase by 2.5 percent.

She added, ‘The prevalence rate of diabetes in Western Pacific region is 4.3 percent and this is expected to go as high as 6.9 percent by 2025.’

The pre-diabetes disease that affects about 8 million Filipinos has become particularly alarming to health experts.

According to Dr. Ruby Go, president of the Philippine Lipid Atherosclerosis Society (PLAS) there is a large number of Filipinos mostly in their productive years who carry impaired glucose tolerance or impaired glucose fasting wherein blood sugar levels are higher than the normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

She added, “Prediabetes occurs when the body does not respond properly to its own insulin and this cause glucose levels in the blood to increase.”

Patients who have pre-diabetes are not warned about their condition because their sugar levels do not yet indicate that they are likely to develop the disease. Drs. Sy and Go state that drugs in addition to exercise and proper diet, play a major part in keeping diabetes at bay.

Dr. Joven Tanchuco, medical director of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Philippines said, “Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the Philippines. But the last few years have seen many new advances in o ur understanding of diabetes and our ability to treat it effectively. Clearly the best way to prevent the serious health consequence of diabetes is to prevent it from occurring.”

A GSK study called the DREAM trial (or Diabetes Reduction Approaches with ramipril and rosiglitazone Medications) for pre-diabetes patients showed the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes was reduced by 62 percent, compared to placebo among people at high risk of developing the said disease.

The results of the study, which involved the largest diabetes-prevention study of 5,269 respondents, were presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Copenhagen.

According to the study, over the three-year median follow-up period, 51 percent of those who received rosiglitazone returned to normal blood sugar levels compared to 30 percent of those who received placebo. Rosiglitazone maleate is the active component of Avandia, a product developed by GlaxoSmithKline, a global research-based pharmaceutical company.

The study was designed and conducted by the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University, which indicates that 10.6 percent of those who received rosiglitazone progressed to Type 2 Diabetes compared to 25 percent of people treated with placebo. In the composite primary endpoint of development of diabetes or death from any cause, rosiglitazone demonstrated a 60-percent risk reduction relative to placebo.

Rosiglitazone belongs to the thiazolidinedione class of drugs. It provides long-term sugar control and is an approved treatment for Type 2 diabetes. So far no other drug has been approved for pre-diabetes treatment.


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