Thursday 16 February 2023

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea?

This is a pill which apparently entirely substitutes giving a diabetic cat insulin jabs. It is therefore highly convenient. The drug is called Bexacat and it works by lowering blood sugar levels by causing it to be excreted in urine.

Made by Elanco Animal Health Inc., Bexacat was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December and is expected to be available in the U.S. in the next several weeks.

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea?

Pill treats diabetic cats without daily insulin shots but is it a good idea? Image: MikeB

Often, domestic cats with diabetes in the USA have contracted the disease because of obesity. And as obesity rates are rising among the feline population so is diabetes. 

I'm told that between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 cats in the US have been diagnosed with diabetes. Feline obesity apparently is approaching 50% of the domestic cat population in the USA.

This figure is constantly being forced down our throats! It is a dire statistic. But I have the distinct impression that if you make it more convenient to treat diabetes it's going to lead to more diabetes. This is because the cause of diabetes is carelessness in cat caregiving if that cause is obesity.

Convenience emboldens carelessness. The big pharma companies are really using human neglect to make some more money. The far better solution would be to try and find a way to ensure that people don't allow their cat companions to become obese. Perhaps that is impossible but it should not be.

Research, by the way indicates a clear reason why this bill has been manufactured. Owners of diabetic cats often have their cats euthanised. Statistics tell us that 10% of cats with a new diabetes diagnosis end up being euthanised. And within 12 months another 10% are euthanised because of the difficulties of giving them insulin jabs.

There are some downsides to this wonder pill, Bexacat. The first issue is that you can't go from giving your cat insulin jabs to then giving them Bexacat. That apparently is a no-no because this drug is dangerous and I think under those circumstances you could kill your cat due to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Also, before being prescribed this drug by your veterinarian, the cat has to be subjected to a health check for liver, kidney and pancreatic disease. The drug is not for every diabetic cat, they say.

And lastly, another barrier to its use, is the high cost. I'm told that most vets will double or triple the cost of the drug which is about $53 a month. That means they're going to be charging around $100 to $150 a month, which, it seems to me, is a substantial barrier to its use.

And on reading about the price, I suspect people who have been optimistic about using it will be brought down to earth rapidly and it may lead them to deciding to euthanise their cat.

Clearly, it's a good drug in many senses but I see a lot of downsides. Above all, it facilitates maintaining a diabetic cat.

It is harder to look after diabetic cat it may encourage cat owners to reduce their cat's weight which would in turn ease their burden in treatment. Perhaps I'm being too simplistic.

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