Merck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD), one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, announced the launch of its Diabetes Awareness Campaign, tackling the issue of Muslims with type 2 diabetes fasting during the holy month of Ramadan despite serious health risks.
Research shows that more than 50 million people with diabetes continue to fast during Ramadan despite the advice of healthcare professionals. Recognizing the critical role that healthcare professionals play in providing advice to people with diabetes wishing to fast, MSD has launched a new information kit for healthcare professionals to share and discuss with their patients. “The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan” information kit for people with type 2 diabetes provides a range of advice based on the Recommendations for Management of Diabetes during Ramadan from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), as well as tools to support effective diabetes management while fasting.
People with diabetes who choose to fast during Ramadan will abstain from eating, drinking and use of oral medications from pre-dawn to after sunset. For people with type 2 diabetes, decreased food intake, along with certain diabetes medications, are well-known risk factors for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which if left untreated, can lead to serious medical problems including loss of consciousness, convulsions or seizures, which require emergency treatment.
The new drug released by MSD, Sitagliptin, JANUVIA was tested in a clinical trial versus the older therapies (such as Sulfonylureas) that have been previously adopted in fasting diabetic patients. Sitagliptin was proven to have significantly less hypoglycemia than older therapies (49% less relative to Sulfonylurea treatment), thus leading to an improved fasting experience for all diabetic patients.
“Fasting poses significant health risks for people with diabetes, yet despite this, many diabetics fast without medical guidance and as a consequence may develop acute complications", said Dr. Mohammed Mansour El Zaheri, Head of the Jordanian Society for the Care of Diabetes. “It is important to remember that healthcare professionals should discuss fasting and dieting with their type 2 diabetes patients at diagnosis and on an ongoing basis.”
“The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan” information kit which is available via MSD Idea Inc Lebanon includes information about the risks associated with fasting for people with type 2 diabetes and the importance of consulting their healthcare professional prior to fasting. Useful tools are enclosed within the kit such as a Blood Sugar Tracker, enabling those who fast to record their glucose levels during Ramadan and a Ramadan Calendar providing an easy point of reference in managing daily food intake and medication timing.
Dr. El Zaheri added: “I urge healthcare professionals to conduct medical assessments with all diabetes patients who are considering fasting one to two months before Ramadan, to discuss any necessary lifestyle modification or changes to treatment regimes.”