New Diabetes Drugs to be Introduced

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Sarah Peddie

Publicly funded diabetes drugs are set to be introduced to the residents of New Zealand living with Type 2 diabetes which will help keep them in better health.

The Pharmaceutical Management Agency (Pharmac) announced that it wants proposals from companies for the supply of the new medicines and to help out New Zealanders who live with Type 2 diabetes. 

What is diabetes? 

It is a disease that occurs when a person's blood sugar or glucose is too high. Insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food into your cells and then used for energy. However, this disease means your body does not make enough insulin or does not use it well. 

Too much glucose can damage nerves, organs and tissue in the body which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, amputation, kidney failure and blindness.

Being able to control sugar levels reduces the risk of complications and can slow or stop illness. It can be done through medication, insulin injections, improving diet and exercise.

The medicines are called SGLT-2 inhibitors, GLP-1 agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors. The Pharmac process could take up to several months. 

There is evidence to suggest that the medicines do more than just reduce sugar levels in patients but can also help with kidney complications and heart disease.

Around a quarter of a million residents in New Zealand live with diabetes and 100,000 are thought to be undiagnosed. 

About 90 per cent of the total number have Type 2 diabetes - which is normally linked to lifestyle choices and obesity. 

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