Glitazones – Avandia diabetes drug

Over 80% of people with diabetes in the United States have the form known as Type 2 . This type of diabetes can generally be treated successfully, at least initially, with oral medication. A major study of Type 2 diabetes published in the early 1990’s from the United Kingdom (the UKPDS study) showed that patients taking oral medication or even insulin itself tended to have worsening of their diabetes control over the years they were studied. Since the time of that study a new class of oral medication known as the ‘glitazones’ has shown promise to prevent what otherwise seemed to be inevitable worsening of diabetes control. Glitazones work differently from other diabetes therapies by entering the cells to the body to make them more sensitive to insulin. Earlier medications appear to act by raising the level of insulin in the blood or effecting glucose (sugar) metabolism. A study of diabetics taking the glitazone, Avandia, (rosiglitazone), revealed that blood sugar control remained constant over 2.5 years of treatment and did not deteriorate as with the other medication types.

Another study in diabetic animals showed that the area of the pancreas responsible for production of insulin was actually improved by Avandia treatment. This would suggest that Avandia could not only prevent the worsening of diabetes control but perhaps prevent diabetes from developing at all. Major studies funded by the maker of Avandia, Glaxo SmithKline and co-promotor Bristol Myers Squibb, are now underway to see whether the onset of diabetes can actually be delayed or prevented with Avandia.

In the meantime, doctors across the country are using Avandia with great success in their patients with diabetes to control blood sugar levels. Avandia can be used by itself or in combination with all other types of oral medications for diabetes treatment. Although the FDA has not yet permitted Glaxo SmithKline to advertise the use of insulin simultaneously with Avandia, most physician experts have used this combination successfully, for years.

Side-effects with Avandia are generally mild and include swelling of the ankles (peripheral edema) or nausea. Blood tests for liver function must be obtained every other month for the first year of Avandia treatment due to the rare possibility of more severe problems such as liver inflammation. Also, individuals with fluid on the lungs, also known as congestive heart failure should not use this drug due to the possible fluid retaining action of Avandia.

As with all medications, only you and your health care provider can decide which treatment is best suited for your particular needs. Be sure to ask about additional information about Avandia treatment for diabetes, or visit

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