Cleveland Clinic links diabetes drugs with increased death risk
  • Fri, 06/29/2012 - 2:38pm

Diabetes drugs glipizide, glyburide and glimepiride have recently been associated with a more than 50 percent higher mortality risk than metformin, according to ScienceDaily.

“The drugs, glipizide, glyburide and glimepiride, are known as sulfonylureas, which help decrease blood-sugar levels among type 2 diabetes patients by stimulating the pancreas to produce insulin,” the site said.

Metformin, on the other hand, is a biguanide, which decreases blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of glucose the liver produces.

“In the past, [sulfonylureas] were considered comparable to one another in terms of effectiveness and safety,” said ScienceDaily.

However, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, endocrinologist Kevin Pantalone and Cleveland Clinic researchers presented evidence otherwise to the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting this week. Specifically, in diabetics who also had heart disease, glipizide increased mortality risk 41 percent and glyburide increased mortality risk 38 percent. To deduce this, researchers studied electronic medical records of 23,915 patients in their 60s who took one of the four drugs between 1998 and 2006.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 26 million people, or 8 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, and many who have type 2 diabetes also have heart disease or coronary artery disease.

With so many type 2 diabetes patients suffering these heart conditions, doctors should consider prescribing metformin over sulfonylureas after taking into consideration other health conditions and possible prescription interactions.

“We have clearly demonstrated that metformin is associated with a substantial reduction in mortality risk, and, thus, should be the preferred first-line agent, if one has a choice between metformin and a sulfonylurea,” said Pantalone.

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Kaitlin Gill
Cleveland
I report on news regarding product safety concerns for individuals and families.

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