Hydroxychloroquine Reduces Diabetes Risk
Older adults who take hydroxychloroquine for their rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a reduced risk of developing diabetes, according to research funded in part by the Arthritis Foundation.
Arthritis is a frequent comorbid condition for adults with diabetes. Previous reports have indicated that the drug hydroxychloroquine reduces blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetes. Because hydroxychloroquine is a safe and inexpensive treatment for RA, scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston decided to explore the relationship between RA, hydroxychloroquine use and diabetes.
The research team examined medical records of 25,310 people with RA who had received at least one prescription for an RA medication. Those who had received a diagnosis of diabetes or had received a diabetes medication prescription prior to the beginning of the study were excluded. The scientists then determined how many people with RA developed diabetes during the course of the study. They found 640 people with a new diagnosis of diabetes or who began taking diabetes medication.
People who took hydroxychloroquine alone for their RA were 33 percent less likely to develop diabetes than people who took methotrexate alone. Those who took oral corticosteroids increased their risk of developing diabetes as much as two-fold.
Lead researcher and recipient of an Arthritis Foundation grant Daniel Solomon, MD, says, “We found a reduction in risk of incident diabetes associated with hydroxychloroquine. Future studies examining the role of hydroxychloroquine in patients with rheumatic disease who are at risk of diabetes would be worth considering.”
Solomon D, et al. Hydroxychloroquine is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes among older adults with rheumatoid arthritis. Abstract presented at American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting. San Francisco, October 25-29, 2008.