Updates on campus events, policies, construction and more.


Information for Our Community

Whether you are part of our community or are interested in joining us, we welcome you to Washington University School of Medicine.


Visit the News Hub

Study evaluates diabetes drug combinations

A new study is evaluating four common diabetes drugs based on their performance, side effects and how they affect patient care and quality of life

April 1, 2014

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine are seeking volunteers for a study comparing the long-term benefits and risks of four widely used diabetes drugs that will be given in combination with metformin (Gulcophage®), the most commonly prescribed medication for treating type 2 diabetes.

Over a period of five years, the study will evaluate how the drugs affect blood sugar levels, diabetes complications and quality of life as well as the medications’ side effects.

“In addition to determining which medications control sugar most effectively over time, we will examine individual factors associated with better or worse response to different drugs,” said Janet McGill, MD, diabetes specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and principal investigator at the Washington University study site. “This is a long-term study that will provide targeted diabetes care at no cost to participants.”

Janet McGill, MD, is principle investigator on a study to evaluate four diabetes drugs.
Washington University diabetes specialist Janet McGill, MD, is principle investigator on a study to evaluate four diabetes drugs.

Although short-term studies have shown that drugs to lower blood sugar can be effective when used with metformin, no long-term studies have been conducted to determine which combinations work best to keep diabetes under control.

The nationwide study is called the Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness (GRADE) study. It is expected to involve 5,000 patients across the country and 300 locally who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last 10 years.

Better choices for patients

“Type 2 diabetes progresses slowly, over a long period of time,” said Barbara Linder, MD, PhD, the GRADE project officer at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “This study will help us understand how different combinations of medications affect the disease over time, and ultimately help physicians make better choices for their patients’ long-term care.”

To be eligible for the study, people with diabetes may be taking metformin, but they cannot be on any other diabetes medication. During the study, all participants will take metformin along with a second medication randomly assigned from among four classes of medications that are approved for use with metformin by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Three of the study drugs increase insulin levels. They are: sulfonylurea, DPP-4 inhibitor and GLP-1 agonist. The fourth option is a long-acting form of insulin.

Participants will receive free clinical evaluations and management of their diabetes medications throughout the course of the study, including at least four clinic visits per year.

For more information or to volunteer, call study coordinator Lori Buechler at 314-362-8285, e-mail or visit the study’s website at