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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to help certain diabetics produce insulin just at mealtimes.

About 16 million Americans have Type II, or adult onset, diabetes and generally can take once-a-day pills to boost insulin production and decrease blood sugar all day.

But blood sugar skyrockets after meals and then naturally dips. If patients skip a meal, some drugs can cause blood sugar to drop dangerously low.

Prandin, known chemically as repaglinide, was approved Tuesday. It is designed to work only when a Type II diabetic eats. The idea is that a pill 15 minutes before meals would avoid the risk of hypoglycemia.

Manufacturer Novo Nordisk found Prandin as effective as other diabetes drugs.

In safety studies of 1,200 patients, no one suffered hypoglycemia serious enough to require medical attention.

About 1.5 percent of patients dropped out of the study, citing mild to moderate hypoglycemia, compared with about 2.5 percent of "control" patients who quit older diabetes medicines for the same reason.

Prandin will be on pharmacy shelves by April. A price was not announced.

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