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OBJECTIVE: The goal was to assess the 1-year efficacy and safety of the addition of pioglitazone or metformin to existing sulfonylurea (SU) therapy in patients with inadequately controlled type 2 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In this multicenter, double-blind study, patients were randomized to receive either pioglitazone 15 mg (n = 319) or metformin 850 mg (n = 320) and up to 45 mg/day and 2,550 mg/day, respectively. The primary efficacy endpoint was HbA(1c) at week 52. Fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and lipid profiles were also measured. RESULTS: HbA(1c) was reduced by 1.20% in the SU plus pioglitazone group and 1.36% in the SU plus metformin group, and fasting plasma glucose was reduced by 2.2 and 2.3 mmol/l in the respective groups. Fasting insulin levels were also reduced (pioglitazone arm -1.3 micro IU/ml; metformin arm -0.8 micro IU/ml). There were no significant between-treatment differences in these three parameters. Pioglitazone addition to SU significantly reduced triglycerides (-16 vs. -9%; P = 0.008) and increased HDL cholesterol (14 vs. 8%; P < 0.001) compared with metformin addition. LDL cholesterol was increased 2% by the addition of pioglitazone and decreased 5% by the addition of metformin to SU (P < 0.001). Urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio was reduced by 15% in the SU plus pioglitazone group and increased 2% in the SU plus metformin group (P = 0.017). Both combinations were well tolerated with no evidence of hepatic or cardiac toxicity in either group. CONCLUSIONS: Clinically equivalent improvements in glycemic control were observed for both combinations. Compared with metformin plus SU, addition of pioglitazone to SU resulted in a reduction of the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio, a small but significant rise in LDL cholesterol, and significantly greater improvements in triglyceride levels and HDL cholesterol levels. Metformin plus SU was associated with a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol. SU plus pioglitazone is an effective and well-tolerated combination regimen that may provide additional beneficial effects for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Original publication




Journal article


Diabetes Care

Publication Date





141 - 147


Adult, Aged, Blood Glucose, Body Mass Index, Cholesterol, HDL, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Double-Blind Method, Female, Glycated Hemoglobin A, Humans, Hypoglycemic Agents, Male, Metformin, Middle Aged, Pioglitazone, Sulfonylurea Compounds, Thiazolidinediones, Time Factors, Triglycerides