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Diabetes Drug Can Help Lose Weight

Two little pills seem to help diabetes drugs lower patients' blood sugar more effectively, while helping people lose weight, too.

According to Merck, the study compared the effectiveness of a new drug Januvia, which is awaiting regulatory approval, and a leading diabetes drug called glipizide, a generic formulation of the drug Glucotrol that Pfizer Inc.

Obesity has long been known to be a major contributing factor to the onset of diabetes. Weight control is considered to be an important component in controlling diabetes.

Merck said its pill, Januvia or sitagliptin, lowered blood sugar levels by 0.67 percent in a yearlong trial, or just as much as another, older drug, glipizide.
Merck said the study showed that Januvia users had a mean weight loss of 1.5 kilograms, while glipizide users had a mean weight gain of 1.1 kilograms after 52 weeks. Januvia users also had a lower rate of hypoglycemic episodes, during which their blood sugar falls too low.
Januvia's part of a new class of oral diabetes medications known as DPP-4 inhibitors. The medication is taken daily.

It is not clear how widely used the drugs would be, given the expected price tag of $3 to $6 a day. Older diabetes drugs cost 50 cents a day or less.

Merck said it expects the Food and Drug Administration to rule on whether to approve Januvia by mid-October. The company is seeking to have it approved to treat type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form of the disease.

About 21 million Americans, or 7% of the population, have diabetes, the ADA says. Up to 95% of diabetics suffer from the type 2 form of the disease.

In Type 2 diabetes, patients either do not produce enough insulin or cells in the body ignore it. Insulin is needed to process sugar; without it, blood sugar levels soar.

Diabetes is expected to affect 350 million people by 2025.