Most people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, with an assortment of drugs at their disposal. But somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million Americans are living with Type 1 diabetes and their only drug option, insulin, is what keeps them alive. Now, in a world's first, a new oral drug for this disease could change the way they manage their disease.
As a Type 1 diabetic, Claire Pegg has checked her blood sugar levels many more times than she can count.
"There is so much judgement with every minute of the treatment. You are good or you are bad because your blood sugar is whatever it is," Pegg said.
Hitting the target A1C level, a measurement of blood sugar control, is difficult, often impossible.
"Seventy percent of the people in the us do not achieve target A1Cs,” said Dr. Satish Garg, an Endocrinologist at Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado Denver.
That means a higher risk of long-term complications like heart, nerve and kidney disease. Now, a new drug could make reaching that target easier.
"For people with Type 1 diabetes, this may be the biggest breakthrough that they'll see," Dr. Garg said.
The drug, called sotagliflozin, blocks the re-absorption of sugar in the kidneys and delays absorption of glucose from the gut. Patients lose sugar in the urine, which means less in their blood.
"It is a big deal," Garg said.
Researchers found a two-fold increase in the number of patients who reached the target A1C level while on the drug. There are other benefits too.
"People lose about three to four percent of their body weight. In addition, about ten to 15 percent reduction in insulin dose," Garg explained.
While in the study, Pegg's A1C level dropped well into that target range. She also lost 20 pounds.
"It's, it's incredible, it's absolutely incredible," she said.
If it's approved, it will be the first oral drug for type one diabetes, ever.
"I will have script in hand and waiting to get my hands on it," said Pegg. "I just, I can't wait."
Before insulin was discovered in 1921, Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. There have been many advances in technology that have drastically improved the lives of people with the disease, but new drugs to treat it have been nonexistent. It's important to note that this drug will not replace insulin. The FDA decision is expected by the end of the March 2019.
Contributors to this news report include: Stacie Overton Johnson, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.