Quick Hits: Dangerous Side Effects With Some Diabetes Drugs, Vitamin D Doesn’t Curb Cancer & More

Switching from metformin – the standard drug treatment for type 2 diabetes – to sulfonylureas – a second-line treatment for diabetes – can increase the risk of major side effects, such as heart attack and stroke, a new study suggests. Common sulfonylureas include Amaryl (glimepiride), Glucotrol (glipizide) and DiaBeta (glyburide). Researchers examined data from more than 77,000 patients with type 2 diabetes. The patients started metformin treatment and during an average follow-up period of just over 1 year, researchers found that switching from metformin to a sulfonylurea or taking a sulfonylurea and metformin together increased the risk of heart attack, death from any cause and severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), compared to remaining on metformin alone. Sulfonylureas were also associated with an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular death. Posted July 18, 2018. Via BMJ.

Taking high doses of vitamin D supplements monthly does not reduce the risk of cancer, a new study found. Researchers looked at 5,108 participants around the age of 65. During an average follow-up period of just over 3 years, the research team identified 328 total cases of cancer. Of those cancer cases, 165 (6.5% of overall participants) received monthly high-dose vitamin D supplementation and 163 (6.4%) in the placebo group. The findings suggest that monthly high doses of vitamin D supplements should not be used to shield against cancer. Posted July 19, 2018. Via JAMA Oncology.

More prescription drugs may become available as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs under a draft guidance issued by the FDA. The agency also outlined different steps that can be taken to ensure that patients do not use OTC drugs inappropriately. Some of the approaches include the implementation of a mobile app that helps someone determine whether the use of a nonprescription drug is appropriate for them, as well as adding additional detailed information in the packaging label. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb hinted that some prescription drugs that could potentially be candidates for OTC status are cholesterol-lowering drugs and Narcan (naloxone), which is used to reverse an opioid overdose in an emergency situation. Posted July 17, 2018. Via FDA.

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