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Medicine could help relieve diabetes burden

Medicine could help relieve diabetes burden on New Zealand's hospitals

GlaxoSmithKline says its treatment for type 2 diabetes, Avandia* (rosiglitazone maleate) could play a role in relieving the burgeoning burden that diabetes places on New Zealand's hospitals.

GSK New Zealand's Medical Director, Dr Ian Griffiths said: "Avandia tackles what clinicians now understand to be the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion. GlaxoSmithKline is currently conducting large scale outcome studies investigating Avandia in the prevention of diabetes, prevention of the worsening of diabetes over time, and prevention of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes. We know that one of the end results of diabetes progression is kidney damage and failure, so our hope is that Avandia will play a significant role this regard. We would also anticipate that more widespread use of this medicine could, in the longer term, save the health service money, and relieve the burden on the country's hospitals."

An increase in demand for kidney dialysis in South Auckland will see Middlemore Hospital run out of space to treat patients in the next few weeks.

The hospital is planning additional night-shift dialysis to cope with the influx of people needing treatment but new facilities will be needed by the end of the year.

Hospital management are reported as saying that long term, the growth is unsustainable and they are calling for national guidelines on rationing treatment.

The number of people requiring kidney dialysis in the Counties-Manukau area is almost double the national average due to the higher incidence of diabetes in that area's population of Maori and Pacific peoples.

The health board spends about $13 million a year on kidney dialysis (excluding costs such as theatre time). It costs about $50,000 a year per patient, including in-patient time.

Dr Griffiths pointed out: 'Unlike previous treatments, which work by releasing more insulin from the pancreas or decreasing glucose output through the liver, Avandia helps the body to use its own natural supplies of insulin more effectively. In doing so, Avandia provides effective and sustained control of blood glucose levels."

Studies suggest that Avandia may have the potential to slow the progression of type 2 diabetes and delay the inevitable need for using injectable insulin. Long-term blood glucose control is also key to limiting diabetic complications of heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

Avandia was made available in New Zealand last year. Avandia is not funded on the Pharmaceutical Schedule in New Zealand and GlaxoSmithKline says it is unlikely to achieve broad funding in the future due to Pharmac's budgetary constraints.

Dr Griffith said: 'We appreciate the New Zealand Government is not alone in having to manage health costs within a limited budget. However, we believe that people should be informed about all medicine choices available in New Zealand. With Avandia, people with type 2 diabetes have the choice to invest in a treatment that may improve management of their condition. In the longer term, it may decrease the demands that diabetic complications place upon our limited hospital services.'

Avandia is widely used in more than 60 countries by over four million people with type 2 diabetes. It is approved for funding in Australia.

Avandia Avandia* (rosiglitazone maleate) is a private purchase Prescription Medicine for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. You will have to pay for this medicine. Available in 4 and 8 mg tablets. Tell your doctor if you have a heart condition, liver disease, or a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome; or if you have Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. Common side effects include fluid retention, anaemia, or weight gain. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your doctor, pharmacist or health professional. Prices may vary depending on the pharmacy. Ask your doctor if Avandia is right for you. Avandia is a trademark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies. Marketed by GlaxoSmithKline NZ Ltd, Auckland. For more information call 0800 808 500 or see or

About GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand GlaxoSmithKline New Zealand is part of one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, providing innovative medicines in several therapeutic areas including asthma, diabetes and immunisation. GSK NZ also supports the community in New Zealand through its sponsorship of Youthline, support for medical events, and a number of educational and research sponsorships in Maori and Pacific Health, Nursing and Respiratory medicine.

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