News Paper Dog

Five Doses of Good News on Type 2 Diabetes in 2016

It’s been a long slog, but this year brought at least five doses of good news on the subject of type 2 diabetes. Here’s our take.

  1. Preventing Cardiovascular Deaths. This year brought windfall of good news on cardiovascular outcomes with three of the newest drugs for type 2 diabetes. Just last week, empagliflozin (Jardiance) was approved by FDA “to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death in adult patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and established cardiovascular disease.” Earlier in the year, controlled studies showed that liraglutide and semaglutide protected against such deaths. Liraglutide is marketed as Victoza for type 2 diabetes and at a higher dose as Saxenda for obesity. The New Drug Application (NDA) for Semaglutide in type 2 diabetes went to FDA last week.
  2. Preventing Diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program proved a decade ago that intensive behavioral care can help people lose weight and prevent diabetes. This year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proved that it saves money. So Medicare is going to start paying the YMCA and other non-traditional providers to deliver the DPP in community settings.
  3. Better Insulin Products. Longer acting insulin products have slowly come to be the dominant forms used for type 2 diabetes. This year’s launch of the latest long-acting insulin, Tresiba, will soon be followed by two products that combine long-acting insulin with a GLP-1 agonist – Soliqua and Xultophy. In late November, FDA approved those two drugs simultaneously. At about the same time, Novo Nordisk announced results from a landmark cardiovascular outcomes trial with Tresiba. They reported good cardiovascular safety and less risk of low blood sugar.
    All this innovation comes at a price – these new forms of insulin are expensive. So, to put some downward pressure on insulin prices, FDA has started approving biosimilar insulin products. Biosimilars are equivalent – albeit not exact – copies of complex biological molecules.
  4. Remissions with Surgery. Evidence has grown strong this year that metabolic and bariatric surgery can give people with obesity and type 2 diabetes their best shot at reversing the disease. So in May, the American Diabetes Association joined 43 other groups from around the world to call for more aggressive utilization of surgery for this purpose.
  5. Better Care, Better Survival. Type 2 diabetes is like any other chronic disease – it’s rarely curable. But the landmark Steno-2 study, ongoing now for more than two decades, proves that better care brings better survival. In fact, data published in November showed that patients who received intensive behavioral and drug therapy lived nearly eight years longer.

Type 2 diabetes is a difficult, chronic disease. But 2016 offered people who live with this disease some important good news.

Click here for another perspective from MedPage Today.

News Paper Dog, photograph © 8 Kome / flickr

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December 11, 2016