Eat, Drink, Test and Be Merry

Last month I excitedly reported that a march on Washington had been announced. However, it grew so fast that the planners had to step back and take a second look. They are now calling it a “Political Impact Rally,” and the date might be changing. For more information, a toll free number has been set up by volunteer Robin Harrison. Call (888) 253-7144 to find out more about this emerging, grassroots advocacy campaign.

The march organizers aren’t the only ones having second thoughts. Glaxo Wellcome, the company that markets Rezulin, or Romozin as it is known in Britain, recently pulled it off the market in the United Kingdom after 150 cases of liver damage and three fatalities were linked with the drug.

Rezulin is still available here, however. Parke-Davis, the company that markets it in the United States, and the FDA will incorporate a new warning in the drug’s labeling. The label will warn of the possibility of liver damage and advise that all who take it get a liver enzyme test every month for the first six months of use and then every other month for the next six months. Researchers estimate that two percent of Rezulin users will have to stop taking the drug.

“No fair,” claims loyal user Jonathan Place who was able to quit insulin after starting Rezulin. Place wants to ensure his supply so badly that he has called Parke-Davis and offered his services to help the company out of it’s consumer relations pickle.

Place has the amazing distinction of being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest blood sugar in the world. When I asked friends to guess how high, no one even came close to guessing – 1791 mg/dl! I don’t think he tried it as a stunt to get hired as a spokesman by Parke-Davis, but holding the record might help.

My mom also takes Rezulin, and it’s really dropped her insulin requirements. She used to need 100 units/day and only needed 50 units after starting Glucophage. Her doctor told her to stop the Glucophage and start Rezulin, but her insulin requirements jumped to 80. Now she takes both and only needs 25 units of insulin a day. “I’m just not as hungry now that I’m taking this, and I’ve lost some weight too,” she says.

Also in the news, Congress just passed a bill asking for the development of safe and effective non-invasive blood glucose meters. Section 215 of the “Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997,” was signed by President Clinton on November 21, 1997. Please see this month’s run down of some of the companies involved in this race. I know that we all want one of these meters very badly, but don’t hold your breath waiting.

There is also some good news for those of us that like to indulge occasionally. Alcohol, if consumed with meals, has been shown to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream. In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a drink a day in people over thirty lessened the risk of an early death by 20 percent. Other studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the chance of getting type 2 diabetes by 50 percent! One possible explanation is that it may induce the body to burn more calories or inhibit fat storage. Whatever the cause, consult with your doctor first.

And one last note in the news, stick margarine and any foods made with hardened vegetable oil have been proclaimed a “shortcut to heart disease.” So, using moderation, give up the margarine and eat real butter instead.

With all this news in mind, my advice for the new year is to eat, drink, test, be happy and insist on getting the monthly liver tests if you’re taking Rezulin.

Have a happy and healthy new year!

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