New pill for type 2 diabetics

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5 million Australians are affected by type 2 diabetes, of which 750,000 have been diagnosed.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, where the body produces no insulin, people with type 2 diabetes produce some insulin, but not enough to enable glucose to move from the blood stream into the body cells and liver.

The result is excess glucose remaining in the blood stream, resulting in higher than normal blood glucose levels.

“The condition is commonly monitored with a glucose-lowering tablet, diet, exercise, and sometimes insulin,” Dr Gary Deed, Director of Diabetes Australia, Queensland said.

One in three affected Australians struggle to control their condition, however, with many sufferers not knowing what their optimal blood glucose targets should be.

If blood glucose levels remain too high, long-term complications associated with the disease may develop, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney disease and blindness, Dr Deed warns.

Weight gain is also a concern.

“Research shows a lot of people (with type 2 diabetes) find weight control is an issue, and that certain medications contributed to weight gain,” he said.

A new treatment, Galvus, promises to significantly reduce blood glucose levels without affecting body weight.

According to Prof Greg Fulcher, director of diabetes services at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, the treatment, which is taken in the form of a tablet, “significantly increases” the likelihood of diabetes 2 patients reaching blood glucose targets of less than 7 per cent.

“Together, the clinical effectiveness and good tolerability of Galvus reinforce its potential for helping patients with type 2 diabetes and their doctors to better manage this chronic disease,” he said in a statement.

Tablets are usually taken once or twice daily.

The treatment is to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from August 1.