Metformin Found to be Superior Diabetes Drug

Oral metformin, a diabetes type 2 drug, has been found to be more effective at preventing cardiovascular disease and death than commonly prescribed insulin secretagogues medications according to a study published in European Heart Journal.

Insulin secretagogues (Iss) medications include glimepiride, glipizide, tolbutamide and glyburide. Danish researchers, who published the study, say that long term links to ISs have not been clearly studied. Metformin, the first drug of choice for type 2 diabetes, has not been compared to ISs for long-term risks or comparative efficacy.

The study tracked a group of 107,806 people living in Denmark aged 20+ years, who had received either an IS or just metformin between 1997 and 2006. The study was led by Dr. Tina Ken Schramm, Heart Centre at the Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University Hospital.

Results of the study indicated that ISs therapy alone was linked to a higher risk of death, as well as a considerably greater risk of stroke, heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease compared to metformin therapy.

Researchers also found that those on an IS had a fifth to one third greater risk of death from any cause than those on metformin. Among individuals who had already had a heart attack, the risk was about one third to one half greater.

The authors point out that their findings do not show that ISs cause harm, just that metformin appears to be more effective."Previous studies have shown that ISs, in particular sulphonylureas, are associated with a reduction in long-term risk, Dr. Schramm said. Therefore, the increased risk from ISs shown in our study presumably has more to do with the beneficial effects of metformin, gliclazide and repaglinide, than the detrimental effect of the other ISs. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers, Drs Odette Gore and Darren McGuire wrote, Patients taking metformin had the best outcomes, supporting prior evidence of metformin benefit and making it the first-line drug recommended for almost all patients with type 2 diabetesSo patients should not stop their medications based on this study, but certainly should discuss any concerns with their doctor.Schramm stressed that more studies need to be conducted on glucose-lowering medications.
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