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How do Actos and Avandia Differ from Other Antidiabetes Drugs?

It is known that in case of type 2 diabetes there are two major problems within the human body, which explain the development of diabetes. First one is insufficient amount of insulin produced by the body; and the second one is the so-called “insulin resistance”, - the specific condition, when body cells do not respond properly to the available insulin and do not let the hormone do its job on transforming sugar into energy.

Initially, all the diabetes treatments were focused on supplying the body with insulin in forms of injections or on stimulating insulin production in the human body. The late 1990th brought us another approach to the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Since the lack of insulin is not the only issue to blame in case of type 2 diabetes, scientists suggested that improving insulin resistance or, in simple words, making human body cells more “sensitive” and “friendly” to the available insulin hormone, may result in the improvement of diabetes symptoms and better blood sugar control. As the result of scientific research, the group of medications, called thiazolidinediones or TZDs, was developed. Nowadays, there are two representatives of this group – Actos and Avandia, which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Being the representatives of the new class of anti-diabetes medications, both Actos and Avandia are different than other popular drugs used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They differ, first of all, by offering blood sugar control through improvements of cells sensitiveness to insulin, which is still available in the body in cases of type 2 diabetes. However, along with the revolutionary mode of action and health benefits of Actos and Avandia, these medications are also associated with some serious risks.

To begin with, it is worthy to mention that there had been one more representative of TZD drugs, called Rezulin, but it was withdrawn from the market because of an increased incidence of drug-associated hepatitis. Today, the possibility of causing serious liver problems is the major concern on Actos. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that there have been cases reported when Actos caused serious liver inflammation (hepatitis) and lead to the increase of liver enzymes. That is why before prescribing Actos for treating diabetes, doctors always perform liver health check and during the first months of Actos treatment regular tests of liver enzymes are always performed.

When speaking about Avandia, the key concern here is heart problems. In year 2007, the FDA reported about the available data from the pooled analysis of clinical studies, which showed that people taking Avandia may have 30-40 % greater risk of heart attack that patients treated with other anti-diabetes medications. Taking into account that people with diabetes already have the increased risks of cardiovascular disorders, the safety profile of Avandia seems to be quite a disputable issue. However, more detailed researches on the safety of Actos and Avandia are required, and the scientists work hard on clearing all the above mentioned issues.

On the other hand, Actos and Avandia offer significant benefits to the patients with diabetes. First of all, metformin and TZD drugs are the only medications, capable of fixing insulin resistance in people. Of course, we should not forget here about the non-medicinal options, such as healthy diet and exercising. Second, Actos is known to have beneficial influence on the cholesterol level in people. In fact, Actos may increase the levels of “good” cholesterol and reduce the amount of “triglycerides”. By the way, there were several clinical trials, which proved the cardiovascular benefits of Actos.

Besides, Actos and Avandia, when used alone, cannot cause hypoglycemia, a side effect, which is associated with other anti-diabetes medications. Hypoglycemia is a condition, when blood sugar level drops below normal.

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Finally, Actos and Avandia are easy to use. These pills should be taken once or twice daily irrespective of meals. And, to achieve even better results in blood sugar control, combinational drugs are available, such as Actoplus met and Avandamet (TZD combined with metformin), Duetact and Avandaryl (TZD combined with glimepiride).

So, being the representatives of novel class of anti-diabetes medications, both Actos and Avandia can definitely do much for improving blood sugar control in diabetes patients. However, in order to make the most of these medications, one should be very careful about taking them, strictly following the doctos’s prescriptions and discussing any safety concerns, which may arise while taking Actos or Avandia.


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