Most Diabetes Clinical Trials Ignore Everything But Blood Sugar Control

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Most diabetes drug trials focus strictly on the medication’s effect on blood sugar levels, but ignore that medication’s impact on other outcomes that are important to patients, such as quality of life and the risk of complications.

Only one in five trials measures the effect of drugs on quality of life and risk of complications such as death, heart attack, stroke, amputation, blindness, and dialysis. The trials can be smaller, shorter, and cheaper without considering these factors, but they’re not necessarily better for patients.

According to a commentary by Victor Montori, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, “the apparent benefits of these trials are a mirage….Patients and society may end up paying dearly for medications that cause more harm than good….The medical community should insist that we invest the resources needed to do trials that ascertain the effect of interventions on patient-important outcomes.”

Dr. Montori recommends that instead of focusing strictly on blood sugar control in a mad rush to the marketplace, diabetes drug trials should test the efficacy of medications against outcomes important to patients. Moreover, they should have to prove that they reduce risk of diabetes-related complications, not just lower blood sugar.

Source: Mayo Clinic Press Release, September 2007

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