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Avandamet and Type 1 Diabetes

While Avandamet is licensed to treat type 2 diabetes, it is not approved for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The prescription medication can, however, be used in people with type 1 diabetes who are also insulin resistant. If you have type 1 and type 2 diabetes ("double diabetes"), talk to your healthcare provider about Avandamet and type 1 diabetes.

Avandamet and Type 1 Diabetes: An Overview

Avandamet® (rosiglitazone and metformin) is a prescription medication that has been approved for use as a type 2 diabetes treatment. Although Avandamet is not approved to treat type 1 diabetes, there are some situations where the combination drug may be useful in people with type 1 diabetes.
In September 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was severely restricting the use of Avandamet, due to the risk of "cardiovascular events" such as heart attacks and strokes. Only individuals who could not control their diabetes on other medications (or those who were already taking the medication and doing well) would be able to take Avandamet.
However, in November 2013, the FDA announced that a careful analysis of the research suggests that there is not, in fact, any increased risk, compared to treatment with standard diabetes medications and that the use of this medication will no longer be restricted.

Avandamet and Diabetes

Avandamet is a combination of two diabetes medications (rosiglitazone and metformin). These two medications work differently and have different effects in the body:
  • Rosiglitazone is part of a group of medications called thiazolidinediones (or sometimes called "glitazones"). The medication helps to improve insulin sensitivity. This means that rosiglitazone helps your body respond to insulin better, which helps to lower blood sugar.
  • Metformin works in several ways. It decreases the amount of sugar (glucose) made by the liver. Metformin can also decrease the amount of sugar absorbed into the body (from the diet) and can make insulin receptors more sensitive, helping the body respond to its own insulin better. All of these effects cause a decrease in blood sugar levels.
In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce insulin. Because Avandamet cannot cause insulin production, it cannot be used alone to treat type 1 diabetes. In other words, it does not do any good to be more sensitive to insulin if there is no insulin present in the body.
However, people may have both types of diabetes at the same time. Often, these are people who have had type 1 diabetes for many years and have also become insulin resistant as they have aged. Although these people still need insulin, they might also benefit from a medication that can make them more sensitive to insulin (such as Avandamet). This might allow them to use less insulin. However, the idea of "double diabetes" is relatively new, and much more research is needed in this area before the best treatments are known.
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