Arizona Physicians Seek Cuban Drug To Treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers

By Sara Hammond
Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 2:54pm
Updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 3:14pm
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(Photo courtesy of University of Arizona)
Marvin Slepian (left) and David Armstrong.

Two University of Arizona physicians want to bring a prescription drug developed in Cuba to the United States to treat diabetic foot ulcers. Such ulcers can lead to death in some diabetics.

Every 20 seconds, a person with diabetes undergoes an amputation resulting from a diabetic foot ulcer. The ulcers arise when a person with diabetes loses sensation in the foot and can’t feel a blister forming. An infected wound can lead to limb amputation.

UA’s David Armstrong and Marvin Slepian recently traveled to Cuba to partner with medical colleagues to bring the drug called Heberprot-P to the United States. They hope the normalization of relations between the two countries will help speed clinical trials and lead to approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug is used in 27 countries. It fosters rapid wound healing and a 75 percent reduction in amputations, the physicians say.

Dr. Armstrong said it costs more to treat severe diabetic wounds than the five leading cancers in the US.

Later this month, Armstrong will speak to the Congressional Caucus on Diabetes about Heberprot-P and other research at the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance at the UA.

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