Fact-check: New drug can delay Type 1 diabetes, not prevent it

FDA-approved Tzield delays the onset of full-blown type 1 diabetes for around two years

Geo Fact-Check

Multiple Pakistani social media accounts claim that a new drug, marketed as Tzield, can cure and prevent diabetes for three years.

The claim is false.


On November 22, users on Facebook and Twitter alleged that a new path breaking treatment will prevent a person from getting diabetes for three years.

“Teplizumab injection, another gift of science to humanity, diabetes off for three years,” wrote one account on Facebook.

While a video uploaded on YouTube claimed that it no longer mattered how much sugar a person consumed anymore, as he/she will not get diabetes due to a new medicine.


The drug, Tzield, does not cure or prevent diabetes, it only delays the onset of full-blown type 1 diabetes for around two years.

This treatment was approved by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 17, after clinical trials.

“Today, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Tzield injection to delay the onset of stage 3 type 1 diabetes in adults and pediatric patients eight years and older who currently have stage 2 type 1 diabetes,” a press statement by the FDA read.

Type 1 diabetes, the statement further stated, is a disease that occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin, adding that type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.

As per the FDA, the Tzield will have to be administered by intravenous infusion once daily for 14 consecutive days, to prevent stage 2 diabetes from progressing to stage 3.

Geo Fact Check also reached out to Dr Asjad Hameed, chairman of The Diabetes Center in Islamabad. He also confirmed that this treatment, while still in its initial stages of being tested, could only reduce and manage type 1 diabetes.

“All else on social media is nonsense,” he said, over the phone, “Around 30% of the Pakistan’s population has type 2 diabetes with complications. This injection is only for type 1 and not for type 2 diabetes.”

While Asim Rauf, the chief executive officer of the government-run Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, explained that type 1 diabetes has three stages: 1, 2 and 3. “If a person has stage 2 [of type 1] then this drug claims to stop stage 3 for three years,” Rauf said, “It just delays the process. It does not cure the disease.”

Dr Asma Ahmed, the endocrinologist of Aga Khan University Hospital, also called the posts on social media purporting that Tzield prevented diabetes “misinformation”.

“This is a highly advanced kind of treatment that cannot cure diabetes,” she told Geo Fact Check, “Type 1 [diabetes] is mostly in the young population. This delays the progression of type 1 diabetes.”

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