Oral Medications May Be Enough For Diabetics

Armen Hareyan's picture

Diabetics may soon be able to lead an insulin-free life as a new study revealed that oral medications can replace the hormone shots.

"Generally, both patients and physicians believe that long-term use of oral diabetic medications is not possible as these drugs lose their effectiveness over time as the pancreas of the patient fails.

"Our data suggest that some patients can remain in good glucose control for years using non-insulin oral diabetic agents," according to lead researcher Arthur Swislocki of the Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System.

In the study, the researchers analysed records of 191 veterans 188 men and three women with type 2 diabetes who received treatment beginning in 1992 and got follow-up for 15 consecutive years.


Of them, 96 began treatment solely with oral drugs. They found that 55 percent of the patients (53 of 96) who started treatment with oral diabetic agents were able to continue using them 15 years later and even achieve good blood sugar control, the news paper reported.

In addition, a measure of long-term blood sugar control, hemoglobin A1c, actually improved from an average of nearly eight percent to about seven percent 15 years later in this group.

Swislocki said the long-term effectiveness of oral diabetic medications seen in their study may reflect the wider range of oral drugs now available for treating type 2 diabetes compared with 15 years ago.

Therefore, he said if one class of drugs became less effective, other classes could be added in combination.

"The study result is good news for people who need medical therapy for type 2 diabetes. They may be able to delay or avoid the use of insulin," he said.