A New Drug for Type 2?
The inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug salsalate may aid blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes—and could suggest a new mechanism for treating the disease.
Researchers who studied the drug's effect in more than 100 participants found that those taking salsalate had greater drops in A1C levels compared with those on a placebo. On average, participants who took the drug decreased their A1C by 0.5 percent over the three-month study. The medication also dropped triglyceride levels more than the placebo did, hinting that salsalate may lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Salsalate is an aspirin-like drug that has been safely used for years to treat arthritis. But, unlike aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, it isn't harsh on the stomach and doesn't cause gastrointestinal bleeding.
Still, the study's authors caution that it's too soon for doctors to prescribe salsalate as a treatment for diabetes. They say further research is needed to understand the drug's side effects—including increased LDL ("bad") cholesterol and higher levels of urinary albumin, a marker for kidney disease. The most common side effect was hypoglycemia, low blood glucose, though most cases were mild.
The trial is important for another reason: It suggests that inflammation plays a role in type 2 diabetes. If future trials of salsalate prove its effectiveness, it could be the first in a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs for people with type 2.