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

Entries Tagged as 'Diabetes Medication'

Diabetes Supplements are Drugs Too

August 25th, 2013 · No Comments

Many people with diabetes use supplements to help them manage their blood sugar. They use everything from bitter melon and gymnema sylvestre to cinnamon and fenugreek to help them control their diabetes. And now to judge from the many emails I get, berberine has become the big hope.

Most people who take supplements for blood sugar control do that because they worry about the side effects of prescription medication. The problem is that they imagine that their supplement of choice doesn’t have any side effects.

Any medication that does anything for us also has side effects. Some are obvious, but many others don’t show up until lots of people have used them for years. Then it is too late for the early adopters.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

How We Defeated Obesity and Diabetes

August 22nd, 2013 · No Comments

The biggest challenge in managing our diabetes is controlling our weight. But fortunately we have three roads that will take us there.

Cheryl, who is my friend and colleague at HealthCentral, traveled one of these roads. I have traveled the other two. Each of them have been a great trip.

A couple of weeks Cheryl wrote “How I Defeated Obesity and Diabetes” for the obesity area of HealthCentral. Gastric bypass surgery is the road that worked for her.

Since Cheryl knew that I had defeated obesity via other means, she asked me to round out the picture with my experience. Our intention is to provide a comprehensive roadmap of the three ways that we know from our own experience that will work for controlling obesity.

Cheryl has written many posts for HealthCentral about surgical ways to manage weight. I have also written a couple of posts here, more recently at http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/154007/reverses-bariatric/.

I once considered surgery to manage my weight. But instead I took the  other two routes that are available to those of us who have diabetes.

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Using Marijuana to Manage Diabetes

June 30th, 2013 · 4 Comments

When I stopped smoking marijuana, I got diabetes instead. Maybe the timing was just a coincidence, but a new study indicates marijuana and diabetes may be connected.

Between 1972 and 1984 I was a heavy marijuana user. But I wasn’t heavy. In fact, in 1972 under the influence of marijuana I was able for the first time to manage my weight while becoming much more active. Then, I became an editor of a business magazine where I sat on my butt for long working hours every day, stopped using pot, and gained back all the weight I had lost under the influence of that illegal drug.

I was addicted to marijuana. Stopping was one of the hardest things I ever did, but as my cough got worse over the years I knew that I had to stop to save my health.

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Posted in: Diabetes Medication

Why People with Diabetes Need to Avoid Statins

June 23rd, 2013 · 4 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 article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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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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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

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