This is a member of a class of drugs used to treat Type 2 Diabetes. It was released in March 2000 in Canada so it is a fairly new drug although it had previously been available in the United States.
This drug specifically targets Insulin Resistance which is a common feature of Type 2 Diabetes. Most Type 2 (maturity onset) diabetics are obese and most of these obese diabetics have insulin resistance and high insulin levels. Many of the drugs (such as Diabeta or Glyburide) used to treat Diabetes actually stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin; but many of these patients already have high insulin levels and so taking a Glyburide type of drug does not help the problem. Avandia helps the body utilize its own insulin more effectively by making the cells more sensitive to insulin. The action of Insulin is to increase transport of glucose out of the blood and into the body cells where it can be used for energy production. If the body is insulin resistant, glucose (fuel) transport is impaired and the body is less efficient in producing energy. By treating Insulin Resistance, Avandia decreases the amount of insulin needed and supports the pancreas so that it doesn’t burn out from working overtime to produce extra insulin.
When to take it:
Since the drug is effective for 24 hours it can be taken any time during the day. It works over time and therefore it may be up to several months before the full benefits are seen. It has very few drug interactions and can be taken with most common drugs. The doctor should be aware of all the drugs you are taking to see that there are no interactions.
Because other drugs similar to Avandia have been associated with liver problems, the doctor will do blood tests to check liver functions when you start the drug and every few months thereafter. Avandia occasionally causes Anemia (low blood) or swelling due to edema. If you notice swelling of the hands or feet discuss with the doctor. If you are a woman at or past menopause, AVANDIA may cause periods to resume and thus expose you to a danger of pregnancy. This needs to be discussed with the doctor. AVANDIA on its own will not cause low blood sugar but since it may make some of the other drugs that you are taking for your Diabetes more effective, it is possible that they may cause you to have low blood sugar episodes. You should continue to measure blood sugar and if you get low readings or symptoms of hypoglycemia discuss with the doctor.