Big news dropped for diabetics this week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three new medications to help control blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
The FDA press release specifically stated that these three new treatments – Nesina, Kazana, and Oseni – are to be used with diet and exercise to manage blood sugar. Alogliptin is a new active ingredient found in these treatments.
“These new approvals are what I like to call ‘piggy-back’ drugs. They will reap the rewards of their predecessors like Byetta, Januvia and Victoza,” commented our resident pharmacist, Dr. Sarah G. Khan. She explained that these new drugs give patients more options. For instance, patients could receive discount cards to try the new drugs, it may force insurance companies to prefer the older drugs, or if a patient hasn’t found success with one of those they may with the new drugs.
“If you didn’t have success with Victoza, for example, maybe because you couldn’t stand to use a needle or stand the nausea then maybe one of the newer drugs might be a better option,” explained Dr. Khan. She continued by explaining that, “combination drugs like Nesina have their pluses and minuses. They are great with keeping patients compliant and having less medications to remember to take but they also may be more expensive and the doses aren’t as easy to adjust.”
This disease affects nearly 24 million people and 90 percent of American cases of diabetes are type 2, according to Denise Reynolds, RD for EmaxHealth.com. She describes patients with type 2 diabetes as either being resistant to insulin or not able to produce enough. Both of these problems cause one’s blood sugar levels to increase and that leads to complications like heart disease, kidney disease, and even blindness. While lifestyle changes to diet and activity levels can help relieve these symptoms in type 2 cases, a medication that can help prevent damage is becoming essential given all the diagnosed cases.
“Controlling blood sugar levels is very important in the overall treatment and care of diabetes,” said Dr. Mary Parks, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Alogliptin [the new active ingredient] helps stimulate the release of insulin after a meal, which leads to better blood sugar control.”
Obesity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, as it is generally a disease associated with lifestyle. So maybe it’s a boon for patients that by taking these drugs some will see a drop in weight.
“The biggest thing about this class of drugs is one of its side effects, which is weight loss,” said Dr. Khan. “I know some of the earlier approved drugs are trying to get a secondary indication approval.” That means the drugs could be prescribed for both type 2 diabetes and weight loss.