PHARMACY

Study: Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce diabetes risk, lower insulin secretion

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A new study found that alcohol intake may reduce risk of diabetes incidence, and may lower insulin secretion for those on a diabetes-prevention regimen.

The study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consisted of 3,175 participants with impaired glucose tolerance, elevated fasting glucose and a body mass index of 24 kg/m2 or greater. Participants were randomly assigned to receive placebo, metformin, or lifestyle modification. With use of a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire, alcohol intake was evaluated at baseline and at one year. During follow-up (mean duration, 3.2 years), incident diabetes was diagnosed by annual oral-glucose-tolerance testing and semiannual fasting plasma glucose measurement.

“Despite overall low rates of alcohol consumption, there was a reduced risk of incident diabetes in those who reported modest daily alcohol intake and were assigned to metformin or lifestyle modification,” the study authors wrote. “Moderate daily alcohol intake is associated with lower insulin secretion — an effect that warrants further investigation.

“The potential benefits of alcohol use in preventing diabetes may be limited to those who are actively pursuing other therapies to reduce risk,” the study authors conclude. “Moderate alcohol intake was associated with decreased insulin secretion, independent of insulin sensitivity. The effect of chronic alcohol consumption on glucose metabolism, especially b cell function, warrants further investigation.”

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FDA unanimously recommends GSK’s kidney cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has recommended approval for a new kidney cancer drug.

GlaxoSmithKline announced that the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee had voted unanimously to recommend approval for Votrient (pazopanib), an investigational pill-based treatment for renal cell carcinoma.

“Kidney cancer is a very serious disease, therefore the committee’s recommendation in support of pazopanib is an important step towards bringing a new, oral treatment option to advanced renal cell cancer patients,” GSK VP oncology research and development Rafael Amado said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the FDA towards the approval of pazopanib.”

The committee based its decision based on a phase 3 trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting this year. FDA advisory committees’ recommendations don’t guarantee full FDA approval, but are taken into account when the agency decides whether to approve a drug.

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Generic drug combination cuts heart attack, stroke risk, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

OAKLAND, Calif. Combining two cheap generic drugs prevented more than 1,000 heart attacks and strokes, according to a study by Kaiser Permanente.

According to the study, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, 68,560 patients with diabetes or heart disease received daily 40 mg doses of the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin and 20 mg of the blood pressure-lowering drug lisinopril daily for three years. The combination of the drugs lowered their risk of hospitalization due to heart attack or stroke after two years by more than 60%, the study found.

It is also assumed that 75% of study participants were also taking aspirin, though aspirin was not included in the study because it is an OTC drug, and its use could not be measured through pharmacy records.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, and 23 million Americans have diabetes,” Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute diabetes clinical lead and lead study author R. James Dudl said in a statement. “This is a proven program that can be applied in many settings to reduce heart attacks and strokes, and at the same time decrease the cost of care for those events.”

The study followed 170,024 Kaiser Permanente members in California with heart disease or diabetes, dividing them into three groups: a high-exposure group of 21,292 who took the two drugs more than half of the time and 2004 and 2005 based in prescription refill habits; a low-exposure group of 47,268 who took them less than half the time; and a group of 101,464 people who didn’t take the drugs. Among the whole study population, there were 21 heart attacks per 1,000 people in 2006, but among the patients who took the drugs, there were 545 to 726 fewer heart attacks than among those who did not take the drugs.

Lovastatin is the generic version of Merck & Co.’s Mevacor, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1987. Lisinopril is the generic version of Merck’s Prinivil, approved the same year.

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