By Dr. Kathy Vaughn, of Northside Pet Clinic, Jackson, Mississippi
As a veterinarian, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping sick animals get better. But nearly as gratifying is my work in clinical studies, in which I help to evaluate potential new medications for possible approval by the Food and Drug Administration, a critical step to ensuring the health of dogs and cats in the future.
Currently, I’m participating in a study that’s evaluating an alternative treatment to insulin for cats with diabetes. The test medication has already been studied extensively, and this final study before submission to FDA is called the “pivotal” study. I’m quite excited about the study, because the investigational medication is a liquid given orally just once a day.
The current treatment for diabetic cats generally requires twice-daily insulin injections. Although insulin injections don’t hurt a cat, the process of managing diabetes with injections can understandably be very difficult for pet owners, plus it can create real challenges for people who travel or have irregular schedules. Sadly, owners who cannot provide a strict care regimen to diabetic pets sometimes give up their beloved animals.
Recently, one of our clients, Donna Newby, noticed her cat Asia was urinating on the rug, losing weight, and that her cat’s formerly silky fur looked scruffy and dull. Donna knew something was wrong. She brought Asia to me and the test results confirmed Asia had diabetes. Fortunately, Asia qualified for the study, so when I delivered the news about Asia’s diagnosis, I was also able to tell Donna about the study.
Donna had been worried about giving Asia insulin injections, and was thrilled to participate in this study where she could give Asia the liquid investigational medication. The liquid can be mixed with wet food or inserted into the cat’s mouth using an oral syringe. Plus, unlike most clinical studies, there is no placebo used so every participating cat receives the test medication. All medications have risks and benefits, but we’ve seen few adverse events in this study, with diarrhea and soft stools the most common.
Donna has chosen to use the oral syringe every morning and says Asia accepts it easily. She, and other study participants also appreciate that everything associated with the study is free, including diagnostics, veterinary visits, and the investigational medication. I also work hand in hand with local veterinarians so cat owners at other practices never need to worry that they must change veterinarians if they participate in the study.
We currently are seeking more newly diagnosed cats that may qualify for the study. If you have a cat that is showing signs of diabetes, please seek veterinary care right away. If left untreated, feline diabetes can lead to serious complications and even death.
Cats must be at least 2 years old, be otherwise healthy, and meet other study qualifications. To learn more about the signs of diabetes in cats and qualifications for this study, visit the study website at DiabetesCatStudy.com. Owners who believe their cats may qualify for the study can complete a quick on-line questionnaire, and they will be contacted within 24 hours about next steps.