Which Diabetes Treatment Works Best?
A recent review suggests metformin is the most popular for a reason, but newer drugs may challenge metformin’s market dominance.
Medscape recently reported on a review of over 200 studies that measured the effectiveness of blood sugar-lowering drugs. A review like this hasn’t been carried out since 2011, and since then many new drugs have hit the market.
Here are some key findings:
Blood sugar-lowering effects
While many of the diabetes drugs reviewed lowered A1C scores, two (metformin and sulfonylureas) seemed to lower blood sugar levels the most.
Insulin, Sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones were found to cause some weight gain, while metformin either didn’t affect weight or actually helped with weight loss in some studies. Two drugs that didn’t cause weight fluctuation were SGLT2 and DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists.
The drugs that seemed to provide the smallest threat of side effects in the study were metformin and GLP-1 receptor agonists; the most common side effects of these drugs were stomach issues. Sulfonylureas and insulin were found to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, while thiazolidinediones were shown to increase the risk of heart failure.
It should be noted that many of the studies reviewed were small, and some new drugs were left out. The review didn’t cover a recent study on empagliflozin, for example. This drug has been making waves in the diabetes industry because it’s the first drug found to lower both blood sugar levels and heart disease risk.