2012 / April

Drug Combo Better for Youth with Type 2 Diabetes

April 30, 2012

A new study shows that type 2 diabetes progresses more rapidly in children than adults and is better treated using a combination of drugs, rather than one alone. Young patients from 16 centers, including Columbia’s Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, took part in the study, which was published April 29 on the website of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) study is the first major comparative effectiveness trial for the treatment of this condition in young people. The TODAY study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The study enrolled 699 youth who had type 2 diabetes for less than two years and a body mass index (BMI) at the 85th percentile or greater. (BMI is a measurement of weight in relation to height.)

The study found that a combination of two diabetes drugs, metformin and rosiglitazone, is more effective in treating youth with recent-onset type 2 diabetes than metformin alone. Adding an intensive lifestyle intervention to metformin provided no more benefit than metformin therapy alone. The study also found that metformin therapy alone was not an effective treatment for many of these youth. In fact, metformin had a much higher failure rate in study participants than has been reported in studies of adults treated with metformin alone.

According to The New York Times, TODAY is the first major study of type 2 diabetes in children “because this didn’t used to exist,” said Dr. Robin Goland, co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center and a member of the research team, who was featured in Times and CBS Evening News stories, as well as other major network news, about the report.

“These are people who are struggling with something that shouldn’t happen in kids who are this young.”