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People’s Pharmacy: Statins make controlling diabetes harder

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 20, 2021

By Joe Graedon, M.S.,</p><p>and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Q. My dad was on statins. (He really needs the help controlling his cholesterol.) We immediately noticed an increase in his blood glucose measurements. His Type 2 diabetes was more difficult to control, and it was very upsetting for him, as he was trying so hard.

He is now off statins and taking a different kind of cholesterol-lowering drug. His blood glucose is under much better control than before the switch.

My cholesterol and triglycerides are, and always have been, in great balance. I put my diabetes in remission with weight loss and got off statins as soon as possible. I think it is ridiculous to put someone on statins when they have great cholesterol levels.

A. The guidelines that physicians are encouraged to follow recommend that all patients with Type 2 diabetes take statins. But a study in JAMA Internal Medicine (Oct. 4) reveals that some patients have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels while taking statins. They often must increase the dose or the number of diabetes medicines they take.

When diabetes is not controlled well, it can cause many health problems. Doctors need to take that into consideration if blood sugar goes up on statin therapy.

Q. You have written about solutions for smelly gas, but you didn’t mention Pepto-Bismol. I have found that when flatulence is bad after eating lots of lentils or beans, PB solves the odor problem.

It does turn my stool black, but I understand that is to be expected.

A. Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth subsalicylate. Researchers report that it “can be useful in the control of excessive colonic fermentation and flatulence” (Revista de Gastroenterologia del Peru, January-March 2007).

There is additional research to support your story. A study published in the journal Gastroenterology (May 1998) notes that “Hydrogen sulfide [H2S] is one of the main malodorous compounds in human flatus. … The ability of bismuth subsalicylate to dramatically reduce H2S could provide a clinically useful means of controlling fecal and/or flatus odor …”

People should not take Pepto-Bismol longer than the label recommends, though (two days). A condition called bismuthism, while rare, is worrisome. It can cause confusion, unsteadiness, mouth ulcers, nausea, rash, diarrhea and kidney problems. A black stool is to be expected, however.

Q. I’ve been taking metoprolol for about 10 years. For a long time, I took a particular generic, and it worked fine. Then the pharmacy switched suppliers. After a few doses, my arrhythmia and rapid heartbeat started to recur.

Now the cardiologist’s office is trying to get my insurance to authorize brand-name Toprol XL so I can take something that will work. Why are we expected to use generics that are low quality? I Googled the maker of my current generic metoprolol. It has had numerous recalls.

A. This is not the first time we have heard of problems with generic metoprolol. That’s why we often recommend the authorized generic. A cardiologist colleague tells us that New American Therapeutics is selling generic metoprolol made by AstraZeneca, the original brand-name manufacturer of Toprol XL.

To learn more about authorized generic drugs and affordable brand-name medicines from legitimate Canadian pharmacies, check out our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines. This electronic resource is available under the Health eGuides tab at peoplespharmacy.com.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website peoplesharmacy.com.

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