You may have also read that last week the FDA approved another new "combination drug" called Avandamet (from GlaxoSmithKline) as a "first-line treatment" for Type 2 diabetes. And you may have wondered, like I always do at these Big Pharma Announcements, what the heck this means.

Combo_drugs What's up with these combo pills for diabetes, anyway? Why stick Avandia and metformin into a single pill -- other than the obvious convenience of not having to swallow so many pellets every day (not to be understated, of course)?

So I checked around and learned -- from my respected friend David Kliff of Diabetic Investor -- that "combo therapy is all the rage." Besides convenience, this new form of drug offers the vendors protection from the competition of generic alternatives, seeing as none exist yet and would be sufficiently difficult to develop.

OK, score one for the Pharma companies. But what about us patients?

"Anything that helps make the patient's life easier is good," Kliff says. After all, how many different pills can a person be expected to remember/swallow in a day, anyway? And it's one insurance co-pay versus two. Still, it seems that cost will be a factor, since generics are not an option.

And while we're on the subject, what really is the difference between a "first-line" diabetes treatment versus a second or third-line option, anyway? I wondered if there was some standard timeline or diabetes threshold that must be reached in order to "up-level" a patient's treatment.

But it seems less formal than all that. The idea is simply that when a person is diagnosed, you want start out by trying the most "natural" and least invasive treatment options. For Type 2's, this usually means lifestyle changes, aka diet and exercise. Next, doctors move on to the most "mild" yet effective of medications, and keep adding more and "stronger" meds as necessary. This is based on the progression of the disease in each individual patient, which makes sense, and was comforting to hear in this post-"one-size-fits-all" treatment era.

Avandamet, which combines the thiazolidinedione (TZD) rosiglitazone maleate (Avandia) and metformin HCL into one pill, is apparently the first combo drug earmarked as a first-line therapy. Takeda's similar ActosPlus Met diabetes drug was granted a second-line treatment indication.

Hmmph. So that's the lowdown on what I call the "One for Two" diabetes drugs. {It's a good thing I'm not a cat, or I would have died of chronic curiousity long ago.}

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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.