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First Weekly Diabetes Drug Wins FDA Approval

Don Bayley 082-652-1108

Well, now we know why celebrity chef Paula Deen was recently hired to promote the daily diabetes drug she takes: That drug is getting some new competition from Bydureon, the first once-a-week treatment for Type 2 diabetes approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA approved the injectable, extended-release drug last month after several delays due to government concerns that it might cause heart rhythm abnormalities.

Manufacturer Amylin Pharmaceuticals expects the drug to be available in pharmacies this month.

Shortly before Bydureon's approval was made public, Deen, 65, revealed that she had had Type 2 diabetes for three years and had just signed an endorsement contract with Novo Nordisk, makers of competitor drug Victoza, which is injected once a day.

Deen, known for promoting the type of high-calorie Southern recipes that diabetics should avoid, was immediately criticized for keeping her disease a secret until it became financially worthwhile not to.

Not that the Food Network star is too worried about the criticism. As she told the Associated Press last week, "I am who I am. But what I will be doing is offering up lighter versions of my recipes."

Both Bydureon and Victoza help the body produce more insulin to reduce high blood-sugar levels. Although once-weekly sounds more convenient than once-daily, a head-to-head comparison study last year found that daily Victoza was somewhat more effective at reducing blood sugar levels.

Like Victoza,  Bydureon will come with a warning stating that it caused thyroid tumors in rats during the drug-testing process, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although it's unknown whether either drug will cause tumors or thyroid cancer in humans, they shouldn't be used by patients with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer.

An estimated 26 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, including nearly 11 million age 65 and older. Getting diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels and take medication regularly has been on ongoing problem, many doctors say. Drugs that can be taken less frequently may help patients more easily keep their disease under control.

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