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New pharmaceutical company research is leading to an influx of new drug classifications for type 2 diabetes in the United States. The diabetes education department at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., is having difficulty keeping the patient education brochure for oral/injectable diabetes medications current. As of right now, 10 classifications of diabetes drugs (not including insulin) exist. In addition, there are diabetes combination medications available, as well as one drug that combines cholesterol medication with diabetes medication in one pill.
What's interesting is that these new classifications target specific body systems that can affect type 2 diabetes control. Some of these medications target the brain, pancreas, liver, stomach, intestines and muscles. The number of systems these medications target illustrates the complexity of the disease.
One important consideration if you're deciding on a medication is the cost. When a drug company develops a new drug, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants them a patent to market the drug for a set amount of time. When the drug patent expires, it becomes a generic drug, and other companies are able to manufacture it, which typically reduces the price. With the current increase in new drug competition, the generics are even cheaper. FDA regulations are designed to promote a balance between new drug innovation and the generic drug competition.
When your doctor prescribes a new diabetes medication for you, ask him or her how it works and how effective it is at controlling your diabetes. Of course, you still need to do your part of the diabetes management (diet, exercise, and properly taking medication), too. Also, ask the provider the estimated cost of the medication and if there is a comparative generic drug that would work for you. Generic drugs can save you money.
Have a good week.
Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.
Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E.
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