Oral hypoglycaemic agents. An update

A C Asmal, A Marble


Despite the availability of oral hypoglycaemic agents for nearly 30 years, their precise mode of action and role in the management of diabetes mellitus remains poorly defined and controversial. They are regarded by many, though not all, clinicians as helpful adjuncts in the treatment of patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes who have failed to respond satisfactorily to an adequate programme of dietary treatment. Their initial effectiveness is greatest in those patients who have had diabetes for less than 5 years, are overweight at the time of initiation of therapy, and whose fasting blood glucose levels are not unduly raised (less than 200 mg/dl). If they are receiving treatment with insulin and a shift to oral compounds is contemplated, success in the changeover is more likely if the daily dose has been less than 20 to 30 units daily. While their efficacy in maintaining adequate glycaemic control over the short term in responsive patients is unquestioned, the long term benefit of oral hypoglycaemic agents in reducing morbidity and mortality of late complications remains to be substantiated. In this regard, where long term efficacy is difficult to quantify, physician vigilance for chronic toxicity assumes a special import...Continue Reading


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