Older type 2 diabetes drugs are as safe, effective as newer products: analysis

An analysis of clinical data for oral type 2 diabetes treatments showed that older drugs have safety and efficacy profiles that are similar to newer products in treating adults with the condition. The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analysed data from 216 clinical trials and two systematic reviews of diabetes research, involving type 2 diabetes drugs such as biguanides, thiazolidinediones, meglitinides, glucosidase inhibitors and second-generation sulfonylureas. "Compared with newer, more expensive agents...older agents have similar or superior effects on [blood sugar] control and other cardiovascular risk factors," the researchers concluded, adding that metformin "seemed to have the best profile of benefit to risk."

Nonetheless, the researchers remarked that there was "no definitive evidence" comparing how several drug classes affected heart-related deaths or other causes of death, and indicated that more long-term studies are needed. Additionally, the study authors suggested that their analysis had limitations, in part because studies inconsistently reported adverse events and the definition of those adverse events varied between trials.

GlaxoSmithKline, which markets the thiazolidinedione, Avandia, remarked that the analysis was undertaken before the completion of a study which showed that the company's diabetes drug controlled blood glucose better than two other medications. Avandia's safety profile has come under scrutiny in recent months following the publication of a meta analysis suggesting a link between the drug and increased cardiovascular risks, and an FDA panel is scheduled to discuss the product on July 30.

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