New Drug Helps Diabetics

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WASHINGTON: Some three million American diabetics could soon find relief from daily injections of insulin thanks to a new drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A Parke Davis drug to be sold under the name Rezulin was designed to resensitize the body to insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar to usable energy. The drug can only be used to treat Type II diabetics, who represent 90 percent of the 16 million Americans afflicted with the condition. While Type I diabetes usually strikes in children who cannot produce insulin and depend on daily shots just to survive, Type II diabetics usually develop the disease as adults. It is these patients that the drug is expected to help most; researchers believe that the drug stimulates a gene to produce proteins that lift glucose from the bloodstream, giving insulin more opportunity to work. In a test study, the company reported that patients who took 400 milligrams of Rezulin a day for six months cut their insulin intake by an average 58 percent, and 15 percent of the 222-patient test group no longer needed insulin injections at all. However, Rezulin has serious side-effects. According to the FDA, Rezulin can cause infection and headaches, can damage the heart and liver, and can increase cholesterol levels as well.