The Pill that May Soon Change the Treatment for Diabetes
Diabetes has risen at an astounding rate worldwide, with more than 400 million people affected by it. In the US, it is expected that soon 10% of the population may get diabetes (more than 90% being type 2 diabetics). With such a sharp rise in its prevalence, no doubt it is also the disease that has recently received the most attention. In fact, during the last 25 years more drugs have been developed to treat diabetes than any other disorder, but still, the medical community is nowhere near to a pill that could be safe and effective as what they would hope to be.
Diabetes rarely touches anyone alone; it comes with a bouquet of problems. Many people living with diabetes are obese or overweight, have high blood pressure, suffer from issues of the heart, blood vessels, kidney, and eyesight, just to name the few.
That is why most professional organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, define multiple targets for anti-diabetic therapy. Treatment of diabetes should not only control the blood glucose level but should also keep blood pressure in check, should not increase body weight or even decrease it, should have a positive effect on lipid profile, and must be safe or beneficial for heart’s health.
In search for freedom from pricks
Today, there is a plethora of available oral pills that can help a person living with type 2 diabetes. But most of them have some sort of shortfall. Some of them cause weight gain; others increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Moreover, none of them seem to slow down the death of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Earlier or later one has to start taking the most potent of treatment, which is insulin. But the problem with insulin is that it comes only in injectable form, and we must accept the fact that no one loves injecting themselves with insulin on a daily basis.
Sure, there have been efforts to create oral insulin. In fact, even an insulin inhaler is already available, but it still has failed to fulfill the promise of replacing the injectable insulin due to various problems, like the difficulty in dosing.
Even more important is the fact that insulin, though highly potent in lowering the blood sugar levels, is not free from side effects. The most dangerous side effect of insulin injection is hypoglycemia, and every year thousands of people die due to it while several hundred thousand get hospitalized. Exogenous insulin is also known to increase body weight, and may even increase the risk of some other health problems.
Once a person is on insulin, there is practically no way to get rid of it.
Due to various difficulties and side effects involved in the insulin therapy, it is still mostly used as a last resort when all the oral drug combinations have failed to give the expected impact in type 2 diabetes.
But now researchers are seeing a ray of hope in the form of GLP-1 agonist class of drugs, which offers many benefits as compared to other pills being used till date, having excellent efficacy, safety profile and added benefits in diabetes.