Public Release: 

Acarbose could delay onset of type-2 diabetes

N.B.: Please note that if you are outside north america the embargo date for all Lancet press material is 0001 hours U.K. time Friday, June 14, 2002


An international study in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggests that the drug acarbose could be used to delay the development of type-2 diabetes in patients with slightly raised blood sugar (impaired glucose tolerance).

The worldwide increase in type-2 diabetes (the onset of diabetes in middle/old age due to impaired insulin production) is becoming a major health concern. Jean-Louis Chiasson from the University of Montreal, Canada, and colleagues aimed to assess the effect of the drug acarbose in preventing or delaying conversion of impaired glucose tolerance to type-2 diabetes.

Around 1400 patients from Canada, Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Israel, and Spain with impaired glucose tolerance were randomly assigned 100 mg acarbose or placebo three times daily. The primary endpoint was the development of diabetes on the basis of a yearly oral glucose tolerance test.

31% of patients given acarbose and 19% of patients given placebo discontinued treatment early. 10% fewer patients given acarbose developed diabetes (32% compared with 42%, respectively)--a relative reduction in risk of 25%. Furthermore, acarbose significantly increased reversion of impaired glucose tolerance to normal glucose tolerance. The main side effects of acarbose were flatulence and diarrhoea.

Jean-Louis Chiasson comments: "Lifestyle modification has already been shown to prevent type-2 diabetes. Our results show that intervention with acarbose is also effective. Whether these two treatment options can be used together remains to be determined. Nevertheless, recommendations for screening and treatment of impaired glucose tolerance should now be reassessed."


Contact: Professor Jean-Louis Chiasson, Research Centre, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôtel-Dieu, 3850 St Urbain Street, Room 8-202, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1T7, Canada; T) +1 514 890 8000x12732; F) +1 514 412 7208; E)

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