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Weapons in the fight against diabetes

A few weeks ago I attended a launch event for a new diabetes drug. I went along to see how the pharmaceutical companies concerned would be marketing this product. I thought, if I'm honest, that it would probably be more expensive than existing drugs, so my GP colleagues would be reluctant to try it, and that the side-effects would probably mean my patients wouldn't want to try it. The side effects come mainly from the fact that excess glucose would be excreted through the urine leading to balanitis, cystitis, thrush etc.

However I was in for a shock; we were given an overview of the drugs currently on the market and how they worked and who benefitted from their particular features. Clifford Bailey, a well known Diabetologist/Professor, had been involved in the final trials with the drug Dapagliflozin (or Forxiga). The drug is no more expensive than the DPP-4 inhibitor class of drugs, and the side effects were all self-treated by those involved in the trials and didn't stop any from continuing with the drug, as the side effects did not last or recur.

One of the most acceptable features is weight loss and the fact that it has a completely different mode of action from any other glucose-lowering drug on the market. I was with a GP colleague (who always reads the small print on everything and can be quite cautious) from a previous place of work, and he seemed to think quite positively about trying this drug with certain patients.

By summer 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will hopefully have made their judgement in favour of this drug. It would be interesting if any nurses reading this blog have started using this drug with their type 2 patients. I would be  keen to hear from you about your experiences.

Also, what about the Insulinx meter? What experience has anyone got with this gadget, designed to assist patients with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes in their insulin management. I believe it was launched around two years ago, and it is helping people to improve their blood glucose control and reduce their doses of insulin. I am just starting in this field and will be working with an Abbott member of staff in training patients in using this equipment correctly and effectively.

There are several ways it can be used, so that those who like simple technology will have no problem grasping what they need to do when they use it, and can understand the benefits as well. It has been successful mainly where patients have come to use it. Again I would ask, who of you in the practice nursing world have patients who are finding it assists them.

As I look out of my window at yet more snow and the grey skies, it reminds me that sometimes, for those with a lifetime of diabetes ahead, this is what life can seem like. Part of our role must be to encourage our patients as much as we can, encouragement is far more motivating than constant criticism and gives a reason to keep going.