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Type-2 diabetes

New diabetes drug causes weight gain, bone fractures

Thursday, December 14, 2006 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: type-2 diabetes, GlaxoSmithKline, diabetes drugs


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(NewsTarget) According to a new study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, GlaxoSmithKline's new Avandia diabetes drug delays the progression of type 2 diabetes in newly diagnosed patients, but may cause serious side effects, including heart problems, bone fractures and weight gain.

The study -- funded by Glaxo -- was led by Dr. Steven Kahn of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Kahn recruited 4,360 newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes, and split them into three groups. The first group was given Avandia, the second was given metformin -- currently the most highly recommended diabetes drug -- and the third was treated with glyburide, a decades-old diabetes drug.

After five years of treatment, 15 percent of patients taking Avandia -- which was released in 2000 -- needed to add a second drug to treat their diabetes, while 21 percent of metformin patients and 34 percent of glyburide patients required a second drug.

However, 62 patients in the Avandia group experienced heart problems while on the drug, compared to 58 patients in the metformin group and just 41 in the glyburide group. Glaxo said the increased heart problems could be coincidental.

But in addition to increased heart problems, patients on Avandia also experienced twice as many bone fractures as patients in other groups. While patients taking metformin lost an average of six pounds over five years and patients on glyburide gained three pounds during that time, Avandia patients gained an average of 10 pounds over five years.

Taking Avandia to treat type 2 diabetes -- a condition largely caused by obesity and a sedentary lifestyle -- "comes at a price," according to Dr. Om Ganda, an endocrinologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

Dr. David Nathan, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote in an editorial accompanying Kahn's study in the NEJM that because of the side effects associated with taking Avandia, "metformin remains the logical choice" for treating type 2 diabetes.

Natural health advocate Mike Adams, author of "How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days," says type 2 diabetes is a preventable, reversible disease that can be cured through healthy diet and regular physical exercise, as well as abstaining from foods that contain sugar or white flour.

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