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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Diabetes Medication'

Why People with Diabetes Need to Avoid Statins

June 23rd, 2013 · 2 Comments

Those of us who have diabetes have enough to be concerned about for me to be writing here about all those things that don’t help us. You won’t find me writing about any of those many supplements and miracle cures that won’t do anything for you except separate yourself from your money. You don’t need me to tell you that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Have you noticed that whenever you encounter a problem, the act of dealing with that problem can create more problems, unless you are especially careful? Those of us who have diabetes need to be especially careful of the drugs that our doctors prescribe, because any drug carries with it unwanted side effects.

Even the type of drug that more Americans and people around the world take has a long list of side effects. Statins, a class of drugs that lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), are commonly prescribed to people with diabetes and pre-diabetes when our lifestyle changes don’t achieve the LDL targets that our doctors like.

About 32 million Americans take a statin. One-fourth of us 45 and over do. One of the statins, Lipitor, is the all-time biggest selling prescription medicine in the history of the world with sales of more than $130 billion.

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Medication

John Dodson’s Diabetes Journey

January 10th, 2013 · 8 Comments

At first John Dodson wasn’t a good diabetes patient, he says. For the first 10 years after he learned that he had type 2 diabetes in 1985, he thought that managing his diabetes was up to his doctor.

“I tried to do what he said, but of course I failed,” he told me. “My blood sugar was generally between 150 and 250, so I had an awfully hard time.”

The doctor that he saw at that time was a general practitioner. That doctor prescribed the only oral drug we had at that time for diabetes, one of the a sulfonylureas called glyburide. Later he switched to an endocrinologist, who gave John an unpleasant wake-up call.

“That doctor told me that there was nothing he could do for me and that after five years I would be on dialysis,” John recalls. “I walked out of that office thinking that this is not going to be my future.”

So he switched right away to another endocrinologist, Dr. Joe Prendergast. He is one of this country’s leading endocrinologists and a pioneer in many areas. I have known him since 1999 when I wrote about his telemedicine practice in an article that I wrote for the American Diabetes Association’s website.

“The very day that I saw Dr. Joe,” John remembers, “he said, John, I think I’ve got something that will help you.” That was in June 2005. A diabetes medication in a new class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists, Byetta (exenatide), had just become available. John became the first person in the county to take Byetta.


John Dodson near Moss Landing, California,  in February 2008

Byetta was what connected John and me. We started corresponding in early 2006 when he wrote me about my about my post here, “Stalking Byetta.” His encouragement for me to start taking Byetta even if I couldn’t work out my insurance coverage did a lot to get me started a few days later. Since that time John became my role model and ultimately my best friend, and we have visited each other often.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication, People With Diabetes

The Trouble with Steroids

November 16th, 2012 · No Comments

An outbreak of fungal meningitis has killed five people who took tainted steroid injections for back pain. And 42 more in seven states are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of them are in Tennessee, but others are in Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina.

But what connection does this bad news have to those of us who have diabetes?

The connection is that we already had other reasons to avoid steroid injections when we can. Steroids can cause our blood sugar levels to skyrocket. They can make us ravenously hungry and lead to our gaining weight.

Prednisone is one of the most commonly prescribed steroids. It is a corticosteroid, not one of the anabolic steroids that bodybuilders use. Our doctors prescribe prednisone because it can reduce or relieve severe inflammation. At the same time steroids have profound effects on all of our body.

These side effects can be serious. One friend of mine joined the diabetes support group that I started because he had severe back pain, took the prednisone that relieved it, and ended up with type 2 diabetes.
Prednisone and other steroids are powerful drugs that really work. Unfortunately, they can come with very high costs. It matters a lot how much you take and for how long.
When we take any powerful drug like prednisone we have to work with our doctors to make the choices that can minimize the side effects so that we get the benefits with the least possible risk. Be in charge of your body.

These side effects can be serious. One friend of mine joined the diabetes support group that I started because he had severe back pain, took the prednisone that relieved it, and ended up with type 2 diabetes.

Prednisone and other steroids are powerful drugs that really work. Unfortunately, they can come with very high costs. It matters a lot how much you take and for how long.

When we take any powerful drug like prednisone we have to work with our doctors to make the choices that can minimize the side effects so that we get the benefits with the least possible risk. Be in charge of your body.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Choosing a Weight-loss Drug

August 21st, 2012 · 5 Comments

We will soon be able to take the first new diet drug since 1999 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xenical, known generically as orlistat. The FDA approved the new drug, Belviq, known generically as lorcaserin hydrochloride, on June 27. The manufacturer, Switzerland’s Arena Pharmaceuticals, hopes to have it on the market here early next year.

But those of us lucky enough to have type 2 diabetes already had our choice of three diabetes drugs that help us manage our blood sugar and happen to help us lose some weight. While people who used these drugs in clinical trials typically didn’t lose quite as much weight as those who used Belviq, the unwanted side effects of the three diabetes drugs tend to be much less serious.

Taking Belviq won’t be a free ride. The FDA approved it for people willing to eat less and exercise more.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Early Intensive Treatment: Start Strong, Last Long

August 19th, 2012 · 3 Comments

If we hit diabetes hard at first, our bodies will keep on making insulin for a long time.

That’s the gist of study by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The full text of the study, which will appear in the July issue of Diabetes Care, is online at “β-Cell Function Preservation After 3.5 Years of Intensive Diabetes Therapy.”

Their research shows that when people who just found out that they have type 2 diabetes take either insulin injections or a combination of three oral medications right away they manage their diabetes better. With either of these two intensive treatments our beta cells keep on making the insulin we need for as long as the researchers studied us, three and a half years.

But the standard guidelines recommend going much slower. They suggest a stepwise approach.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Who Benefits Most from Bydureon

August 4th, 2012 · 2 Comments

A new medication that those of us who have type 2 diabetes take only once a week can bring our A1C levels way down. It can also help us to lose weight, something that almost everyone who has type 2 diabetes needs to do.
But predicting who will lose weight isn’t easy. Only one thing stood out in the clinical trials.

The new medication is Bydureon, which we have been able to get in our pharmacies for only the past four months. But Amylin Pharmaceuticals, which developed Bydureon, presented a study at the American Diabetes Association’s annual convention earlier this month that shows both glycemic and weight loss control data for people taking Bydureon for the past four years. Those were the people taking the drug in the clinical trials leading up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval at the beginning of this year, as I wrote here in “Bydureon Approved Today.”

Bydureon is the latest in a new class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. Its generic name is exenatide, and it has the same active ingredient as Byetta, which we have been able to get since June 2005 and requires twice-daily shots.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Who Reverses Diabetes with Bariatric Surgery

July 23rd, 2012 · 4 Comments

People who have diabetes and are severely overweight are deciding more and more often that bariatric surgery is just the thing for them. Although it is expensive and like any surgery it can have complications, the amount of weight that they lose is usually dramatic and their diabetes often completely disappears.

Some people, including a couple of my friends, have had wonderful results from bariatric surgery. But not everybody benefits.

If you are morbidly obese, I’m sure that you have considering bariatric surgery. But how can you tell what the chances are that it will work for you?

A study presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery can help you decide. Richard A. Perugini, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, was the lead study author and presented the findings of his team at the annual meeting. The abstract of the study, “Predictors for Remission of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Following Roux En Y Gastric Bypass,” is online.

Graphic of a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass connection
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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Metformin Forever

May 30th, 2012 · 16 Comments

Metformin controls the insulin resistance of people who have type 2 diabetes so well that, if possible, all of us should be taking it. That’s what Roderic Crist, M.D., told me at the annual convention of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians in Denver this weekend. Dr. Crist specializes in family medicine in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

“Not everybody can take every drug,” he added, when I followed up our conversation by calling him at his office after he returned home. “But most of the time people can take metformin if they take it carefully.”

Doctors increasingly prescribe it not only for type 2 diabetes but also for insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Roughly one-third of Dr. Crist’s patients have diabetes. Well over half, if not two-thirds of the people he sees are insulin resistant.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Bydureon Approved Today

February 28th, 2012 · No Comments

Today we have the biggest diabetes drug news in 90 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved Bydureon, extended release exenatide.

Now people with type 2 diabetes can take just one shot a week. This single weekly injection will help millions of us manage our diabetes better.

We already know that Bydureon has a significant side effect. Weight loss.

We know that because Bydureon is the extended release version of Byetta, which millions of people have already successfully used to manage their diabetes and reduce their weight. I was one of them.

I used Byetta from February 6, 2006 until December 5, 2007. That’s 22 months.

When I started my twice-daily injections of Byetta my A1C was already pretty good, 6.2. But I was able to reduce my level to 5.3 before I stopped taking it.

That alone would have been enough to make me happy. But what Byetta did to my weight changed my life. The day that I started taking it I weighed 312 pounds and my waist was 58 inches. Twenty-two months later my weight was down to 168 pounds. Unfortunately, I can’t find what my waist measurement was at that time.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

No Diabetes Supplement like Noni

January 13th, 2012 · 6 Comments

When the captain of the skiff who took me snorkeling off South Water Caye, an island of Belize in the Caribbean Sea on Thanksgiving Day, told me about the benefits to people with diabetes of a local fruit, I listened. While I was theoretically on vacation, I always think about my diabetes and how I can help other people who have this disease.

The captain, Ismael Usher, said that his grandmother had diabetes and managed it by drinking the juice of the noni tree. After we got back to the island, he picked a noni fruit from a tree there and gave it to me.

I Study the Fruit of the Noni Tree after Snorkeling
Noni was new to me, so I ate it. It didn’t taste good. But I expected that after trying several other traditional remedies, like bitter melon and gymnema sylvestra.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

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