Liraglutide beats glimepiride for diabetes control
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study, a daily shot of liraglutide proved more effective than the conventional pill glimepiride (Amaryl) in reducing blood sugar levels in patients in the early stages of type 2 diabetes.
Patients given liraglutide injections also lost more weight and had greater decreases in blood pressure than those given glimepiride. Treatment with liraglutide was also associated with significant reductions in the occurrence of excessively low blood sugar levels compared with glimepiride, Dr. Alan Garber and associates report in The Lancet.
At 1-year follow-up, patients treated with liraglutide rather than with glimepiride had lower blood levels of a protein called hemoglobin A1c -- an indication of better long-term sugar control.
Weight loss, as mentioned, was greater in the liraglutide groups and treatment with the higher dose of the drug significantly reduced blood pressure. Lastly, liraglutide was six times less likely than glimepiride to cause excessively low blood sugar levels.
Transient nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea were more frequent with liraglutide, and there were two cases of pancreas inflammation in the liraglutide groups.
Garber, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and his colleagues conclude that "liraglutide is safe and effective as initial (drug) therapy for type 2 diabetes mellitus and has advantages over other drugs used."
In a related editorial, Dr. Sten Madsbad at the University of Copenhagen, states that while the findings suggest an advantage with liraglutide, data from long-term studies are needed to fully assess the safety of the drug and related agents and to gauge their impact, if any, on cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart attacks and strokes.
SOURCE: The Lancet, September 25th online 2008.