The new-generation sulfonylureas decrease the blood-sugar levels in type II diabetes patients by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. But the process can kill the patient, as researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio discovered when they analysed three of the drugs, Glucotrol (glipizide), Daonil, or Diabeta in the US (glyburide) and Amaryl (glimepiride).
They are far more dangerous than metformin, once marketed as Glucophage, an anti-diabetic remedy that was first used in the 1920s. Overall, the sulfonylureas increased the risk of death by 50 per cent compared to metformin, they discovered when they analysed the progress of 23,915 diabetes patients who were taking one of the four drugs.
If you have the choice, go for a metformin prescription, the researchers say.
(Source: Endocrine Society's 94th annual meeting, Houston, June 25, 2012).