Oral anti-diabetic drugs have been on the market for decades. They are often prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes in an effort to control blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes patients, those who suffer from diabetes since childhood, generally require a different therapeutic approach. They receive insulin in the form of injections, or more recently by pump. The usefulness of the oral antidiabetic drugs has been researched by Elizabeth Sevin, PhD,MPH of John Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. Pooled data analysis found that patients who took one of the older medications, metformin, were at a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular illness. Metformin works by blocking the breakdown of glycogen (a storage form of sugar) in the liver, reduces absorption of sugar from the gut and increases insulin sensitivity thus controlling blood sugar more tightly. This protected the heart from cardiovascular illness. None of the other oral medications for type 2 diabetes was significantly linked to cardiovascular illness, but cardiovascular disease and mortality was higher in the patient group that took the drug rosiglitazone.
Due to the controversial reports about this drug, the researchers took a closer look at all the other oral anti-diabetic medications. None of them, not even the newest ones, proved to be superior, and the only one that showed a slight benefit was metformin. The author cautions that the association is too weak to be of significance, and a lot more long-term research would be needed to substantiate the benefits for cardiovascular protection.
More information on Diabetes: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/
Comments on Nov. 18, 2012: I do not see any further benefit for more research on oral anti-diabetic agents. Rather this type of research would indicate that subcutaneous insulin treatment 3 or 4 times per day as originally suggested by Banting and Best is still the best treatment for diabetes coupled with an exercise program and a low fat, low glycemic carbohydrate diet.
Arch Intern Med. 2008;168:2070-2080
Last updated Nov. 6, 2014