The problem isn’t that the study was funded by Actos’ manufacturer, the Japanese drug giant Takeda – drug companies fund good research and this looks to be a well done clinical trial. Nor is it that the treatment didn’t work. It did reduce the number of cases of diabetes by 72%. Diabetes occurred at a rate of 7.6% a year in the placebo group and 2.1% a year in the Actos group.
But patients on Actos were significantly more likely to have side effects, including fluid buildup and weight gain. There were a few more heart problems, and three deaths in the Actos group compared to one in the placebo group. That doesn’t mean Actos was costing lives, but it was not saving them.
This isn’t the first time a drug has prevented diabetes. Avandia, Actos’ troubled chemical cousin, delivered a similar result; its use has been severely restricted because of worries about heart problems. Last year, Novartis’ Starlix failed to prevent diabetes in a similar trial. At the time, James Stein of the University of Wisconsin told me that the whole idea of preventing diabetes is a “sleight of hand” by drug companies. What’s the difference between calling someone diabetic and putting them on medicine? It’s not like slowing the diagnosis of diabetes has been shown to prevent the eye, kidney, or heart problems that can eventually caused by the disease.
Metformin, a cheap generic, has also been shown to prevent diabetes. In a 2002 New England Journal of Medicine article, metformin was shown to reduce the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes by 30%, with the main side effect being gastrointestinal symptoms. But the real stunner in that study was that aggressive diet and exercise was more effective than drugs, reducing diabetes by 58%. The main side effect of the diet and exercise approach was an increase in muscle aches and and arthritis.
Photo: Lawyers and Settlements
Technorati tags: Diabetes, Type 2, Treatment, Actos, Side Effects.
Blogalaxia tags: Diabetes, Type 2, Treatment, Actos, Side Effects.