Nod given for new drug to control Type 2 diabetes

10:13, March 24, 2010      

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Januvia (sitagliptin), a new oral diabetes drug, has been approved by China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) for distribution in the Chinese market.

Pan Changyu, a well-established endocrinologist with the Beijing-based General Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, said the drug, developed by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Inc, is the first approved in a new class of so-called DPP-4 inhibitors.

Unlike insulin therapy, which helps regulate blood sugar by injections, the once-a-day pill for people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, works by increasing the body's own ability to bring down blood-sugar levels, and reduces the risk of hypoglycemia and weight gain.

Type 1 diabetics take daily insulin injections - sometimes several times a day - to maintain their blood glucose at target levels. Type 2 diabetics can control their condition through a healthy diet and exercises, or through the use of oral medications.

Pan says Januvia has proven more effective for people who are not candidates for insulin therapy than previously available oral drugs.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It works like a key that opens up cells so that blood sugar or glucose, the body's source of energy, can get into the cells. When the blood sugar fails to enter cells, it accumulates in the blood stream, resulting in high blood glucose. If left untreated, high blood glucose can cause long-term complications and develop into diabetes, which can lead to blindness, heart disease and kidney failure.

China has about 41 million diabetics, mostly Type 2 - second only to India - struggling to get their blood sugar under control. More than 70 percent of China's diabetics fail to achieve normal blood glucose levels through existing oral medications.

Pan notes that many patients are unable to stick with their treatment of either oral medications or insulin therapy, in part because the drugs cause hypoglycemia, stomach problems and weight gain.

Source: China Daily
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