A new drug to help diabetics is going on the market this week in the United States after being available for years in Europe and Japan.
Precose, brand name for the drug acarbose, is for diabetics who are not dependent on insulin injections. It slows the digestion of carbohydrates to help regulate blood-sugar levels.
Precose, developed by the Bayer Corp., can also be used with other drugs to create a variety of treatments for diabetes sufferers.
“It gives us an opportunity to kind of tailor a particular medicine for people’s specific needs in diabetes. One size doesn’t have to fit all,” said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of diabetes for the Centers for Disease Control and president of the American Diabetes Association.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use Sept. 6.
Diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening disease caused by the body’s inability to convert glucose, a sugar, into usable energy.
Precose is aimed at the estimated 15 million people in the United States who have Type II, or adult-onset, diabetes. They may use oral medications rather than insulin injections.
Other drugs for Type II diabetes either stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin or stop the liver from producing as much sugar.
Precose attempts to control blood sugar when it is highest, typically after a meal, by delaying the body’s breakdown of starches into sugars.
Precose’s side effects include ab dominal discomfort, flatulence and diarrhea. In many patients, Bayer said, these disappear over time.