Paula Deen, the celebrity chef who has built a career on fried and fattening Southern foods, announced this week on NBC’s Today show that she has been living with type 2 diabetes for three years, and that she has come public with her diagnosis to help promote a new diabetes drug.
Deen, who will turn 65 on Thursday, is now a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, and is promoting the drug company’s online program, Diabetes in a New Light. She admits she is taking the company’s once-daily noninsulin injection, Victoza.
Considered a first line defense for people with type 2 diabetes, the drug is designed to stimulate insulin secretion when hyperglycemia is present. Victoza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2010, and already carries a black box warning of the risk for thyroid cancer.
“Because of the uncertain relevance of rodent thyroid C-cell tumor findings to humans, prescribe Victoza only to patients for whom the potential benefits are considered to outweigh the potential risks,” the warning reads.
While the marker for thyroid cancer present in patients is high, drug authorities say it was still within the normal range. The only way to know the true risks with Victoza is to continue monitoring the drug for cancer risk for the next several years.
Choosing to be a guinea pig for a newly approved drug can be dangerous. Last year, the FDA severely restricted the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia after studies showed a risk for deadly heart attacks. A few months later, the FDA alerted doctors and patients that studies on the type 2 diabetes drug Actos showed it was linked to a risk of bladder cancer.
ACTOS, ACTOplus met, ACTOplus met XR, and duetact are trademarks of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and used under license by Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
AVANDIA is a registered trademark of GlaxoSmithKline.