Well Worth It: Britain’s Cheap Anti-Diabetes Cholesterol Pills

Welcome to another Well Worth It – articles about proven, data-driven studies that you may not hear much about in the main-stream media (usually because of a lack of profit-driven PR). Be sure to forward the Well Worth It information along to anyone you think might benefit!

What if you found out there was a cholesterol-lowering drug that is safe, extremely cheap,

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widely used, and appears to prevent or delay the onset and severity of diabetes – while at the same time preventing heart disease?

And what if you found out you couldn’t even get this drug in America?

Drug name: bezafibrate. A drug that’s widely used in the U.K.

British researchers report results in Diabetes Care where they studied retrospectively 12,161 patients on bezafibrate and 4,191 who took other fibrates. Fibrates are an old-school class of anti-cholesterol medicines that are generally very safe and well-tolerated. These researchers believed the bezafibrate had a unique effect, specifically on diabetes, and set out to see if it was true. Their results were, to say the least, impressive:

Medscape reports “The incidence of type 2 diabetes among bezafibrate users was 8.5 cases per 1000 patient-years, the authors report, compared with 14.4 cases per 1000 patient years among users of other fibrates. In a fully adjusted model, the hazard ratio for incident type 2 diabetes was 0.66 for bezafibrate users compared with users of other fibrates.” That’s a one-third reduction in the development of diabetes – all for taking a drug that lowers your cholesterol!

“Moreover, the investigators note, the risk of developing diabetes decreased monotonically as the duration of bezafibrate therapy increased” – which means the effect is more pronounced the longer you take it!

So what happens if you already have diabetes? “Among patients with preexisting diabetes, bezafibrate use was associated with a significantly lower risk of progression to antidiabetic medication use and with a trend toward a lower risk of progression to insulin therapy, compared with use of other fibrates.”

In classic British understatement, the authors told Medscape : “I do think that at least one prospective randomized controlled trial is needed before bezafibrate can be indicated to prevent or treat diabetes,” Dr. Flory said. “This is especially true in the United States, where bezafibrate is not even on the market.”

Besides the amazing potential to prevent/delay diabetes in patients with high cholesterol levels, this drug fits a unique profile. Why? Dr. Flory added, “Right now it is not clear that any of the available diabetes medications are safe from a cardiovascular standpoint.”

This is about when Doc Gurley was sputtering, wondering why bezafibrate is not available here? Why is no one doing the necessary expensive trials to get it through the FDA-approval process? Why am I not getting flyers in the mail constantly, asking me to switch patients to it? Where are the soft-focus TV ads and Google pop-ups?

That’s when I read the last sentence of the article, where the lead author states, “And bezafibrate would be cheap, because it is off patent, but because it is off patent, industry is not likely to take care of this research for us.”

Ah. Now we understand. It’s enough to make you crazy.

Have an idea of how we can get this drug approved here? Want to rant about the for-profit exclusion of pharmaceuticals today? Share it in the comments section below.

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