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Published on 4 December 2009

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Diabetes drug death warning report

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Diabetics taking the sulphonylureas class of drug as their only medication have a 24% to 61% increased risk of dying and 30% increased risk of heart failure, according to a study.

Research reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says the drugs include glibenclamide, gliclazide, glimerpirizide, glipizide, and gliquidone.

It found no increased risk for people taking a combination of sulphonylureas and metformin, supporting guidance that the latter should be the first-line treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial College London said: “When we looked at metformin and sulphonylureas together, we didn’t see an increased risk of heart failure or death.

“This might be because the sulphonylureas dose used when it is in combination with metformin is not as high as on its own, so you might not see the effect. It is also possible that metformin could be protective.

“Other studies looking at the drugs together have been inconclusive. It’s very important that people do not stop taking their medication as a result of this study.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal



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