Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The old drugs work better

As many of you know, I am a type 2 diabetic, now nearly three years running. This news in the Chron today is good for me:

Older, cheaper diabetes drugs are as safe and effective as newer ones, concludes an analysis that is good news for diabetics and may further hurt sales of Avandia, a blockbuster pill recently tied to heart problems.

The clear winner: metformin, sold as Glucophage and generically for about $100 a year. It works as well as other diabetes pills but does not cause weight gain or too-low blood sugar, the analysis found. It also lowers LDL or bad cholesterol.

"It looks to be the safest," said Dr. Shari Bolen, a Johns Hopkins University researcher who led the review, which was published online Monday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Consumer Reports also published a consumer guide of the results. Besides metformin, it rates glipizide and glimepiride, sold as Amaryl and Glucotrol, as best bets.

Metformin and glipizide are the two I have been taking from the outset, and the only two I have ever used to control my blood sugar. (I also take Tricor for elevated triglycerides, Lipitor to elevate my good cholesterol -- I have never had an issue with high LDL -- as well as a mild diuretic called Triamterene to control symptoms of Meneire's, and Lyrica for diabetic neuropathy in my feet.) In addition to the prescriptions, I take some over-the-counter yet doctor-recommended remedies, including low-dose aspirin therapy and a fish oil capsule (omega 3's also help lift HDL) with each meal. I do not inject insulin; all of my meds are oral.

The good doctors of Baylor Family Medicine have helped me effectively manage my diabetes, particularly Dr. Grace Kuo. My A1C score, 12 at the time I was diagnosed, is now under 7, about as good as a person with a functioning pancreas can do.

And yes, I exercise regularly and watch what I eat, as every diabetic should.

I'm fortunate that my insurance plan is good. The co-pays on all these range from $10 to $20, which means I still spend nearly a hundred bucks a month for them. God forbid my insurance went away.

Have you seen SiCKO yet?

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