Diabetes Q&A

Is Early Insulin Therapy As Effective as Oral Therapy in Type 2 Diabetes?

A pilot study of adults with newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes found that early insulin therapy was as effective as 15 months of oral therapy, and may improve insulin production more than standard care.

Note: Current standard diabetes treatment consists of initial oral therapy to suppress glucose production, rather than treatment with insulin, which allows the body to utilize glucose and prevents high blood sugar.

Starting Or Intensifying Insulin Therapy In Type 2 Diabetes
Finding the Right Balance with Insulin Therapy

In the randomized, controlled trial of 23 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, researchers found that those treated with insulin saw decreases in A1C levels from 10.1% to 6.7% after 15 months, while those who received standard oral therapy saw a drop from 9.9% to 6.8% in the same time. Those treated with insulin also lost an average of 5 pounds, while those on oral therapy gained weight.

"While the improvement in glucose was relatively comparable between the 2 groups, our findings support the idea that the body can improve its natural insulin secreting ability when early insulin is given," researchers concluded.

"This may be because early insulin therapy protects beta cells in the pancreas that respond to glucose and produce insulin."

—Michael Potts


American Osteopathic Association. Study finds mechanisms of early insulin treatment for diabetes may produce better outcomes [press release]. October 17, 2015. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-10/aoa-sfm100815.php.