HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Over 34 million Americans have diabetes and for those with Type 2, obesity plays a major role.
For these patients, existing and emerging drugs are helping people lose weight and even improve their cardiovascular health.
When Sandra Penny’s doctor recommended these medications for her she wasn’t surprised.
Diagnosed with diabetes 25 years ago, she struggled to control the disease by losing weight, as did several family members.
“My mother, my father, my brother,” she said, referring to the fact that they all had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Endocrinologist Dr. Paul Jellinger with the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care in Hollywood said the newest medication under investigation is a monoclonal antibody which is showing benefit in lowering blood sugar and inducing weight loss.
“That lowering of the hemoglobin A1C and a nice degree of weight loss, about six to seven percent, without lean body weight loss, it was all adipose tissue, is a nice result,” he said.
But he cautioned that that study sample was small and it may be years before that particular drug is available.
The good news is there are other medications already on the market that can do the same thing, and even more.
“The GLP-1 antagonist drugs are well known to produce early satiety so the individuals on these medications will feel full perhaps halfway through the meal and leave their plate,” Jellinger said.
Patients also get less hungry between meals on these medications and are also at lower risk of heart attacks he said.
Another class of drugs causes patients to urinate out excess glucose and in turn, excess calories.
“The really unique thing about this class of drugs is that beside lowering glucose blood sure well by peeing out the glucose in the urine and lowering the blood sugar and controlling the diabetes, turns out these drugs have very powerful benefits in reducing the incidence of congestive heart failure.
This class of drugs called SLG-2 Inhibitors can also protect the kidneys.
“So they achieve their original purpose but they do so much more,” Jellinger said.
Sandy didn’t have high expectations when she started the medications but became pleasantly surprised with the results.
“I’ve lost about 20 pounds total. They say 12, but I’ve lost 20 and I’m happy,” she said.
The latest research into a monoclonal antibody drug to reduce fat mass is in its preliminary stages, so it could be some time, if ever, before it receives approval.