Anti-Diabetes Drugs May Have A Down Side

People with type 2 diabetes are often prescribed drugs to boost their production of insulin. The controversial belief that these so-called sulfonylurea drugs increase mortality in patients with diabetes now gets support from a new study by researchers in Canada. A 1970 report suggested a link between sulfonylureas and cardiovascular events, but since then other studies have refuted this association and the drugs have remained a mainstay of diabetes therapy. Previously, Dr. Scot H. Simpson and colleagues had shown that metformin, another type of anti-diabetes drug that works by increasing the body's response to insulin, confers a survival advantage over the sulfonylureas. Still, it was unclear if this was due to a protective effect of metformin or from a potentially adverse effect from the sulfonylureas. To investigate, Simpson's team from the University of Alberta in Edmonton analyzed data for 5795 subjects who were prescribed an oral anti-diabetic drug and were entered in the Saskatchewan Health databases between 1991 and1999. As reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, at higher daily doses sulfonylurea-type drugs were associated with an increased risk of death, but this was not seen with metformin.

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