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Diabetes drug can increase death risk by 60%

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A class of diabetes drug known as sulphonylureas increases the risk of dying by between 24% and 61%, and of heart failure by 30%, according to a report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The warning applies only to those who take the diabetes drugs as their sole medication and not to those who combine it with metformin, which is an established first-line treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

Examples of sulphonylureas include glibenclamide, gliclazide, glimerpirizide, glipizide, and gliquidone.

Says lead researcher Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial College London: “When we looked at metformin and sulphonylureas together we didn’t see an increased risk of heart failure or death.

“This might be because the sulphonylureas dose used when it is in combination with metformin is not as high as on its own, so you might not see the effect. It is also possible that metformin could be protective.

“Other studies looking at the drugs together have been inconclusive. It’s very important that people do not stop taking their medication as a result of this study.”

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