U.S. approves new diabetes drug

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration approved a new diabetes drug Friday to help patients control their blood sugar after meals.

Starlix, an amino acid derivative, is marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., the company's first drug for Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.

The East Hanover, N.J.-based firm said Friday that clinical studies show Starlix is able to stimulate insulin production quickly in the pancreas, addressing a basic defect in Type 2 diabetes. By this action, Starlix lowers overall blood sugar levels and blunts the effect of ''mealtime glucose spikes.''

''The uncontrolled rise in blood glucose after meals may contribute to serious long-term damage to vital organs,'' said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, an endocrinologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

Rise in blood sugar after meals is common among people with Type 2 diabetes yet often goes undetected, Novartis said.

Ginger Kanzer-Lewis, president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, said: ''This glucose control can help prevent serious complications of the disease like kidney failure, amputations and blindness.''


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