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
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
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.