A drug produced by a Japanese laboratory is the first to have shown it can help reduce the hardening of the arteries and help combat heart disease, according to a study released Monday.
Actos, made by the Japanese lab Taketa, was compared in 18-month clinical trials of 543 patients with the drug Amaryl manufactured by the French company Sanofi.
Until now no diabetes drug has proved effective in reducing atherosclerosis, known as hardening of the arteries, said Steven Nissen, head of cardiology at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and the study's lead author.
"Atherosclerosis can be particularly aggressive in patients with diabetes, which is currently increasing at an alarming rate in the developed world and the developing world," he told the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago.
The study, which was also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), followed the patients in 97 clinics in North and South America.
It measured the volume of plaque found in patients' arteries with the help of an ultra-sound scan.
The group taking Actos had no visible increase in arterial plaque, registering a 0.16 percent fall, while in the second group prescribed Amaryl, the growth of plaque was up 0.73 percent.
"By defining the optimal strategy for managing coronary heart disease in this patients' population, this study has major implications for how we will treat diabetics with coronary disease in the future," Nissen said.