A consensus statement developed by the American Diabetes Association reflects the availability of new classes of drugs to treat noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Speaking at an American Medical Association press briefing to launch National Diabetes Month, Frank Vinicor, M.D., M.P.H., president of ADA, told the audience: "Several treatment options now exist for the treatment of hyperglycemia in Type II diabetes, focusing on different sites in the body. Other preventive treatment choices will be available in the near future. "
Vinicor noted that for over 20 years, the only pharmacologic treatment for NIDDM was the oral sulfonylurea agents, which stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin. "We've had a lot of experience [with these agents]; they're effective and they work," he said.
"Exciting research, exciting science has now made available two other medications that work at different sites," he told the press. Metformin, marketed under the trade name Glucophage by Bristol-Myers Squibb, was approved last December and launched in May. Vinicor explained that metformin belongs to a new class of drugs called biguanides that decrease hepatic glucose production. Calling metformin "another important choice," he noted it is not associated with weight gain and does not cause hyperinsulinemia.
"A third type of medication is acarbose," he said. Acarbose belongs to a new class of drugs called alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates, thereby blunting the rise in postprandial blood glucose levels. Acarbose, approved in September, will be launched in January under the trade name Precose (Bayer). …