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The FDA

FDA approves Merck's Januvia diabetes drug that claims to treat diabetes but only alters symptoms, health author says

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: the FDA, Merck, diabetes drugs


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(NewsTarget) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that it approved a new "blockbuster" drug from Merck to treat type 2 diabetes, a condition that affects roughly 21 million Americans.

Merck says its new drug -- Januvia -- is a once-daily pill that boasts fewer side effects than existing medications, including hypoglycemia (rapid drop in blood sugar), weight gain and nausea. Clinical trials of the drug prior to approval revealed that the most common side effects were diarrhea, sore throat and colds.

Because Januvia is available in once-a-day pill form, experts believe it will become a blockbuster drug, gaining popularity over medications that must be injected or taken more than once a day. Merck says Januvia will cost consumers $5 per day, or roughly $145 per month, which will add up to sales of $270 million next year and rise to $1.1 billion by 2010. Merck is expecting a combination of Januvia and an existing diabetes drug called metformin to be approved by the FDA early in 2007, which experts believe will add an additional $500 million to Merck's profits by 2010.

Though Merck has not announced official plans to market the drug to doctors and patients, the company -- unlike other large drug firms -- has not committed to wait six months before advertising Januvia, which would allow doctors to learn more about it before patients begin requesting it. Jay Galeota, general manager of Merck's global diabetes franchise, said his company is planning on marketing the drug to doctors and the public almost immediately.

However, critics of the drug have called into question its inability to cure patients of type 2 diabetes, which is generally brought on by poor dietary choices and lack of exercise. According to natural health advocate Mike Adams, author of "How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days," Januvia and similar diabetes drugs only treat the symptoms of the condition -- not the root causes -- which means Januvia recipients will need to be on the drug for a lifetime.

Adams says most cases of type 2 diabetes can be cured through lifestyle and diet changes, without the help of any diabetes drugs. "Drug companies can't wait to turn the diabetes population into another profit-generating revenue source," Adams said.

"The truth is that type 2 diabetes can be cured in a matter of weeks through relatively simple changes in diet and lifestyle. Drug companies, though, don't want diabetics to be cured, because that would eliminate a lifetime source of profits," Adams said. "As long as diabetics stay sick and keep taking drugs like Januvia, the drug companies earn huge profits."

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