Diabetes Pill Might Replace Injection to Control Blood Sugar

From Drugs.com - October 17, 2017

Diabetes Pill Might Replace Injection to Control Blood Sugar

TUESDAY, Oct. 17, 2017 -- An injectable class of diabetes medication -- called glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1 -- might one day be available in pill form, research suggests.

Based on the results of a global phase 2 clinical trial, the study authors reported a significant drop in blood sugar levels for people on the oral medication, and no significant increase in low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) compared to a placebo over six months.

The findings also showed that people taking the highest dose of the pill lost a large amount of weight -- about 15 pounds -- compared to a weight loss of fewer than 3 pounds for people on the inactive placebo pill.

The research was funded by Novo Nordisk, the company that makes the drug, called oral semaglutide.

"Semaglutide could transform diabetes treatment," said Dr. Robert Courgi, an endocrinologist at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.

"Glucagon-like peptide receptor agonists are agents that are highly recommended according to diabetes guidelines, but rarely used because they require injection. Most patients prefer a pill," Courgi explained.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, agreed that these new findings were exciting.

"This medication looks pretty good. The high dose matched the [injection] version. There was low hypoglycemia. It controls blood glucose. There was weight loss and it's not an injection. This is the same molecule that's been shown [as an injection] to decrease cardiovascular mortality," Zonszein said.

"It has all the ingredients for an excellent medication. If this comes to market, it would be very good for people with type 2 diabetes," he added.

Zonszein and Courgi were not involved in the current study.

The study included just over 1,100 people with type 2 diabetes recruited from 100 centers in 14 countries around the world.

The volunteers' average age was 57. The average time they'd had type 2 diabetes was six years. On average, they were considered obese.

The participants' average hemoglobin (HbA1C) levels were between 7 and 9.5 percent. HbA1C -- also called A1C -- is a measure of average blood sugar control over two to three months. The American Diabetes Association generally recommends an HbA1C of less than 7 percent for most people with type 2 diabetes.


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