Now that Avandia Use is Restricted, Are There Low-Cost Alternatives?

Word is out that the FDA has placed severe restrictions on the use of the diabetes drug Avandia.  Thousands of people are now forced to decide what to take in its place.

Avandia isn’t/wasn’t cheap.  The knee-jerk reaction of many physicians will likely be a switch to one of several other pricy brand name medications.

Now would be a good time to evaluate whether less-expensive options should be entertained.  This might especially be true for people who were prescribed Avandia from the start, or without first trying more than one medication of lesser expense.

Following are some medications for diabetes that won’t break the bank:

  • Sulfonureas (glipizide, glyburide, glimiperide) – These old standbys are very inexpensive.  They do have more of a tendency to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than some other medications.
  • Biguanides (metformin) – Many experts recommend that this be the first medication used to treat most diabetics.
  • Meglitinides (nateglinide, repaglinide)
  • Alpha Glucosidase Inhibitors (miglitol, acarbose)
  • Insulin

Sometimes a combination of more than one drug may be required, but still be relatively inexpensive.

Keep in mind that only your health care provider can help you decide which options are best for you.  Not all medications are created equal and each person’s situation deserves a customized approach.  This information is provided only to prompt discussion, not as medical advice.

Tip: One may be tempted to simply call the doctor’s office and ask for an alternative to Avandia.  Realize that doing so will likely result in a prescription of comparable (high) price.  Diabetes treatment deserves careful attention, especially when factoring in cost.  Taking the time to schedule a face-to-face visit will often result in better care, and may pay off at the pharmacy, as well.

Stephen Meyers, MD

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Filed under Diabetes, Managing Medications

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