FDA approves first combination diabetes-cholesterol pill

Medications can be essential, even life-saving. But they cannot bring about the weight loss that is needed for really tackling diabetes and keeping blood sugar under control. And while medications usually target one problem at a time - blood glucose or cholesterol, for example - a healthy diet tackles all of these at once. Diet and lifestyle are especially important for preventing diabetes. Recently, scientists tested two methods for preventing type 2 diabetes in at-risk people. Diet and exercise proved more powerful for prevent diabetes than drug treatments.

(CBS/AP) The FDA has approved the first-ever drug to treat both high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus. Made by drug giant Merck, Juvisync combines Merck's popular cholesterol drug Zocor with its diabetes drug Januvia.

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Patients with both diabetes and high cholesterol are at heightened risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other chronic conditions.

The American Diabetes Association says that all people with diabetes over the age of 40 should take a cholesterol-lowering drug like Zocor, a so-called statin drug. But Merck scientists estimate that as many as 4 million diabetes patients over 40 are not following that advice.

About 20 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, which leads to difficulty controlling blood sugar, or glucose. Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of a number of complications.

"Perhaps one third of the nation's eligible patients with type 2 diabetes are not being treated with a statin, so here's a convenient tool for doctors to target glucose as well as cholesterol levels," said Dr. Sethu Reddy, Merck's director of clinical affairs for diabetes.

To accommodate patients with varying levels of cholesterol and diabetes, Juvisync will be available in six strengths. Common side effects with the drug include stuffy nose and sore throat, headache, muscle and stomach pain.

The American Diabetes Association has more on diabetes.