Drug Therapy Shown To Prevent Diabetes

Armen Hareyan's picture

Diabetes Treatment

A drug used to treat diabetes may significantly reduce the chances of developing the condition when taken by those most at risk, according to an international trial.

A trial involving 5,269 participants at 191 clinics in 21 countries showed that taking the drug rosiglitazone reduced the chance of getting type 2 diabetes by 60 per cent among those at high risk.

The trial was co-ordinated by the Diabetes Trials Unit at Oxford University and the Canadian Cardiovascular Collaboration at McMaster University, Canada. The results have major implications for future health care.


The study included 5,269 people worldwide whose average age was 55 and whose glucose level was starting to rise but who did not have diabetes. Participants took rosiglitazone (a thiazolidinedione), ramipril (an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor), or a placebo over a period of three years.

Among study participants taking rosiglitazone, only 12 per cent developed diabetes, compared to 26 percent who were taking the placebo. Rosiglitazone also normalized glucose levels in 51 percent of participants versus 30 percent of those taking a placebo. It benefited all participants, and particularly those who weighed the most.

Rosiglitazone is a thiazolidinedione drug that is currently used to treat diabetes. It works by helping the body respond to its own insulin and may also preserve the ability to make insulin.

Ramipril, the other drug trialled, did not reduce the risk of diabetes, which affected 18 percent of participants on that drug and 20 percent on placebo. However, significantly more people taking ramipril (43 percent) than the placebo (38 percent) had normal glucose levels by the end of the study.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can no longer produce sufficient insulin to meet demand, often in people where insulin already works less well than normal (known as insulin resistance). Rising glucose levels, as seen in all the participants of the trial, are a warning sign. Type 2 diabetes is the more common of the two main types and accounts for 85