I want a new drug

January 8th, 2014
By

Health News

Type 2 diabetes patients may have a new drug in the fight to control blood sugar. Not only does the pill work all by itself, but patients may see improvement in more than just their blood sugar levels. They may also see lower numbers on their bathroom scales!

The drug is known as canagliflozin, or by the brand name Invokana®. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March for treating type 2 diabetes.

According to a post Wednesday on ClevelandClinic.org, it is a so-called SGLT2 inhibitor that acts by blocking the kidneys’ reabsorption of sugar, or glucose. The result: More glucose is released in the urine and the patient’s blood glucose level goes down.

Most other available drugs for diabetes work by targeting the liver, pancreas or gut to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance or stimulate insulin secretion, according to the website. Canagliflozin and other experimental SGLT2 inhibitors work independent of insulin.

The added benefit: potential weight loss. In clinical studies, patients lost from 2.8 percent to 5.7 percent of body weight.

Said Dr. Mary Vouyiouklis, CCF endocrinologist:

“The weight loss is an appealing side effect, especially in the growing population of obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Aside from metformin, which occasionally results in modest weight loss, other oral drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes are weight-neutral or can cause weight gain.”

Because the drug leads to increased urination, another potential benefit is reduced blood pressure in diabetic patients who may suffer from hypertension. (However, that may also cause lightheadedness, dizziness or even fainting in some patients.)

As with any medication, there are other potential side effects. The most common that showed up in clinical trials were genital yeast infections and urinary tract infections, related to the drug's affect on the kidneys. Studies also showed it moderately increased LDL, or "bad," cholesterol. The potential impact on rates of heart attack, stroke or other cardiac conditions continue to be studied, with results expected in 2018.

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