Drugs that may cause diabetes

Cases of chemicals and drugs causing temporary or permanent insulin dependent diabetes are well documented in the medical literature. These and others suspected of causing diabetes include:

Alloxan and the antibiotic streptozocin, two of the best known chemicals capable of damaging the pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for the production of insulin. Vacor, a rat poison, also has been reported to cause insulin dependent diabetes in humans who survived the exposure. There is some structural similarity between the chemical makeup of the three drugs, and all three contain a structure with an affinity for binding with zinc, which could cause problems with insulin production (see main story).Dapsone (used to treat leprosy) and pentamidine isethionate, given to AIDS patients with pneumonia. These drugs are chemically similar to the diuretics frusemide and chlorthiazide, two drugs associated with the onset of diabetes, which are themselves structurally similar to the thiazide diuretics and the sulphonamide groups of drugs (such as a component of Septrin, see p10).

Some antihypertensives, to control high blood pressure, such as nifidipine, which shares some structure similarity with Vacor.

The barbiturate phenobarbitone, which is structurally similar to alloxan.

Other drugs which need to be investigated as potentially diabetogenic include the antibiotics penicillin, cephalosporin and erythromycin; the benzodiazepine tranquillizers and barbiturates; plus oxytocin, ergometrine and paracetamol (an analgesic).