HOUSTON, June 27 (UPI) -- Glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride can help decrease blood-sugar in type 2 diabetes patients, but may increase death risk, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Kevin M. Pantalone, an endocrinologist at Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, said the drugs stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin.
The medications were once considered comparable to one another in terms of effectiveness and safety but research has shown some of these sulfonylureas might be safer than others. The findings led to the latest research, which compared them to another type of blood-sugar-reducing drug known as metformin.
All four are available under low-cost, generic labels, Pantalone said.
"We have clearly demonstrated that metformin is associated with a substantial reduction in mortality risk, and, thus, should be the preferred first-line agent, if one has a choice between metformin and a sulfonylurea," Pantalone said in a statement.
The study found all three sulfonylureas studied were associated with a more than 50 percent greater risk of death compared to metformin.
"Since many patients with type 2 diabetes also have coronary artery disease, our results could potentially impact the care of a large number of patients," Pantalone told The Endocrine Society's 94th annual meeting in Houston. "In these patients, we now know that glimepiride appears to be safer than the other commonly prescribed sulfonylureas, glipizide and glyburide, available in the United States."