Diabetes Archives - Mantachie Rural Health Care, Inc.
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FDA Approves Generic Swap for Brand Name Insulin

FDA Approves Generic Swap for Brand Name Insulin

Good news came at the end of July 2021 for diabetic patients who are struggling to afford insulin. On July 28, 2021, FDA regulators took action to make a cheaper, near-duplicate of brand-name insulin more accessible. 

This approval could save diabetic patients and health plans millions each year. It could also encourage drug companies to create more biosimilar meds. Biosimilar is the term used for medicines that are near-duplicates of a brand-name drug. Diabetic patients who want to swap to the generic form of insulin must ask their provider to either specifically prescribe the biosimilar or okay a substitution for the brand-name insulin.

FDA approval for the new generic insulin came after the administration agreed that Viatris’ Semglee is interchangeable with Lantus, a fast-acting brand-name insulin. The generic Semglee was launched in the summer of 2020 after Mylan, N.V. merged with another company to form Viatris in December 2019. 

Why Generic Insulin Hasn’t Been Widely Available in the US

Research from health data company, IQVIA, projects that US savings from increasing the use of biosimilars will top $100 billion by 2024. So why aren’t more generic biosimilars already available in the US? Red tape, lengthy patents, and pushback from brand-name drug companies are mostly to blame for the limited sales of biosimilars. 

Despite delays, 29 biosimilars have been approved by the FDA including biosimilars for brand-name cancer and immune disorder drugs. Only 20 of those 29 are actually sold here at this time. 

What You Can Do to Help Increase Biosimilar Sales

As a patient, you have more power to enact change than you might think. If you are a diabetic patient using Lantus simply ask your prescriber to swap your medicine for the generic Semglee. The more patients who switch to the generic form, the more likely it is that other drug companies will begin offering more generic versions of costly brand-name meds.

The approval of Semglee as a swap for the brand-name insulin could change the lives of many diabetic patients who are not taking the proper amount of insulin they need each day in order to preserve their costly medicine. The cost of Semglee compared to the brand-name Lantus is less than half. Semglee will run around $150-$190 without insurance for a month’s supply while Lantus runs between $340-$520 a month. 

Are you a diabetic patient struggling to afford your insulin? Your Mantachie Rural Health Care provider can help by swapping your brand-name medicine for the new generic form. For more information or to request an appointment, click here.

Gastroparesis and Diabetes

Gastroparesis, or gastric emptying, is a serious medical condition affecting the digestive system. It is characterized by the delayed emptying of food contents in the stomach.  Gastroparesis and diabetes are often connected.

Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach nerves are damaged or stop working. The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. Diabetes can damage this nerve if blood glucose levels remain too high for a long period of time. 

Symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting undigested food
  • Feeling full when you haven’t eaten much
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Erratic blood glucose levels
  • Poor appetite
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Stomach wall spasms

Gastroparesis symptoms may be mild or severe depending on the patient.

Complications from gastroparesis can be severe and even dangerous. Bacterial overgrowth can occur from the fermentation of food leftover in the stomach. Hardened, solid masses of food known as bezoars can also develop and cause nausea, vomiting, and obstructions in the digestive system. Bezoars become dangerous when they block food from passing through the small intestine.

When food finally passes into the small intestine, blood glucose levels rise. Erratic blood glucose levels caused by gastroparesis can make diabetes worse. 

What You Can Do to Treat Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis is a chronic illness that cannot be cured. In most cases, however, it can be controlled through proper treatment. The primary goal for treating diabetes-related gastroparesis is to regain control of blood glucose levels. Treatments for gastroparesis include insulin, oral meds, and changes in diet. Severe cases may require a feeding tube and intravenous feeding.

Diabetics with gastroparesis may need to take insulin more often to help control blood glucose levels. Your provider may advise you to take insulin before you eat a meal instead of after. You may also need to check your insulin levels more often. 

Are you concerned about gastroparesis symptoms? It’s time to talk with your Mantachie Rural Healthcare provider about your concerns and find out what’s next. Click here to request a visit now. 

How Diabetes Affects Your Vision Health

Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine system but it can affect just about every other organ and organ system in your body including your eyes. Diabetes can lead to several eye conditions and it is the primary cause of blindness in people with diabetes between the ages of 20 and 74. In today’s article, we’ll take a look at how diabetes affects your vision health and what you can do to lower your risk of developing one of these conditions. 

Why Diabetes Affects Your Vision Health

Diabetes is a metabolic condition affecting the way your body produces insulin. It can lead to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, and hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Hyperglycemia can lead to a number of vision health problems while hypoglycemia can result in temporary blurry vision. 

Four Eye Conditions Caused by Diabetes

Each of these conditions can affect people with and without diabetes. However, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for these vision problems. 

  • Blurry vision. Hypoglycemia is just one of the ways diabetes can lead to blurry vision. Some patients experience blurry vision when they begin insulin treatment. Long-term blurry vision may be caused by diabetic retinopathy, a group of vision conditions caused by diabetes. 
  • Cataracts. The natural internal lens in the eye works like a camera, allowing your eyes to take images of the world around you. If the lens becomes cloudy, a cataract has formed. In addition to cloudy, blurry vision, older people with diabetes may also experience near-sightedness due to cataracts. 
  • Glaucoma. Your eye needs fluid to function properly. When the eyes don’t get enough fluid, pressure builds up. This condition is known as glaucoma. Glaucoma can damage the nerves and blood vessels leading to changes in vision. The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, can be treated with medication. Open-angle glaucoma may not produce any symptoms until it is further along. Less common glaucoma forms may lead to headaches, blurred vision, eye pain, halos around lights, watery eyes, and even vision loss. 
  • Diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar caused by diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the eye’s retina. This condition is known as diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Other types of retinopathy include:
    • Background retinopathy. This is a “milder” form of diabetic retinopathy in which the blood vessels are damaged but your vision is still okay. 
    • Maculopathy. The macula is the part of the retina that helps you see clearly for reading, driving, and other activities. Diabetes can damage this part of the retina resulting in maculopathy. Swelling from this condition can lead to serious eye problems if left untreated. 
    • Proliferative retinopathy. When the cells at the back of the eye don’t receive enough oxygen, new blood vessels may form. These blood vessels are very fragile and can easily develop blood clots which can cause scarring and pull the retina away from the back of the eye. A detached retina can lead to irreversible vision loss. Some cases of proliferative retinopathy can be treated if caught early.

How You Can Protect Your Vision Health

The best way to protect your eye health is to keep your blood sugar levels in check as often as possible. If you are having trouble with hyperglycemia, it’s time to re-visit your diabetes health provider to discuss changes in insulin treatment. You should also visit your eye doctor regularly for an eye exam and to discuss your diabetes and changes in your vision. 

Another way to protect your vision and other areas of your health affected by diabetes is to educate yourself about your condition. Our website is a great source for diabetes education and we offer a diabetes education class each month at Mantachie Rural Healthcare. To learn more about our diabetes education program or how we can help you manage your diabetes, call 662-282-4226. 


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