Earlier this week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they had approved a new drug for type 2 diabetes (see the FDA’s press release here). Type 2 is the most common kind of diabetes and can develop at any age despite the old misnomer that it was an “adult-onset” disease. Essentially, your body does not properly release insulin in response to increases in blood sugar (for example, after a meal). Therefore, sugar is not properly metabolized and builds up in your blood.
Diabetes is a huge concern not only as the seventh leading cause of deaths in America, but also in the high medical costs for those afflicted. Statistics show that more than half of diabetes cases are women. Pregnant women can be affected by gestational diabetes, which typically goes away after the baby is born but can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes. This may contribute to the slight sex bias in Type 2 diabetes, where women comprise 58% of all cases (according to a 1995 study by the National Diabetes Data Group). There is a nice discussion on sex-specific differences in diabetes on Medscape Today, if you are interested in reading more. The article is accompanied by a long list of references for more detailed information.
I don’t study diabetes and I’m not a doctor, but based on my limited knowledge and reading, it looks like the new drug (which will be sold as Victoza) has a different target in the pancreas than the other drugs already on the market. (There was a nice overview in this 2001 review article in the journal Nature.) It’s nice to have more possible treatments since not all drugs work to the same effect in every patient. There’s evidence out there that some drugs act differently even between men and women! Of course, with any new drug, time will tell if Victoza causes any long-term effects. However, it is promising to have a new option for those dealing with diabetes and their loved ones as well. Has diabetes affected you or someone you know in any way and if so, what has been your (or their) experience with the current drugs out there already?
Useful info on diabetes from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: