Rosiglitazone, an oral drug used to reduce the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood, could help prevent Type 2 diabetes, says a study.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when people cannot produce enough insulin, or do not respond to it properly. Insulin is the essential hormone that helps sugars to be turned into body fuel.
People with an impaired ability to regulate their use of glucose are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. The disease is mainly confined to people over the age of 40, and takes effect gradually. It is strongly associated with obesity.
The researchers studied 5,269 high-risk adults who were either given rosiglitazone or a dummy placebo. After three years, 280 individuals taking the drug developed diabetes compared to 658 on the placebo.
A small risk of non-fatal heart failure however was also observed in the rosiglitazone group, according to the findings published in the online edition of the Lancet medical journal.
The researchers wrote that the addition of rosiglitazone to basic lifestyle recommendations substantially reduces the risk of developing diabetes by about two-thirds, offering a novel preventive approach.
"Balancing both the benefits and the risks suggests that for every 1,000 people treated with rosiglitazone for three years, about 144 cases of diabetes will be prevented, with an excess of four to five cases of congestive heart failure."