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Two new guides summarize the effectiveness and safety of oral diabetes medications

Two new plain-language guides that outline the latest scientific evidence on the effectiveness and safety of oral medications for adults with type 2 diabetes are now available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The guides for consumers and clinicians are tools to help patients and their families and health care providers make informed decisions about treating a condition that affects more than 15 million Americans.

AHRQ's new analysis is the first to summarize evidence on the effectiveness and adverse events for all commonly used type 2 diabetes medications. As new classes of oral diabetes medications have become available, patients and clinicians have faced a growing list of treatment options. The consumer-targeted guide includes information on the various types of diabetes pills, how well they work, possible side effects, and medication costs. The clinician's guide includes more detail on those topics and provides "confidence ratings" for evidence that supports those conclusions.

Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly common chronic disease that occurs in people who have too much glucose in their blood. Blood glucose levels are high either because their cells are resistant to insulin (a hormone that helps convert glucose into energy) or because their pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Excessive glucose levels can cause severe problems with the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Obesity increases the risks of developing diabetes.

The diabetes guides are part of a series of informational products created by the Agency's Effective Health Care program. Print and audio versions can be found on the Effective Health Care Web site:

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