Combining the commonly used metformin with another class of medication can greatly improve blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetics, according to new research.
Metformin is in a class of drugs called biguanides. It works by decreasing the amount of glucose absorbed by food and the amount of glucose made by the liver. By doing this, it increases the body’s response to insulin. It is used alone or with other medications, including insulin, to treat type 2 diabetes.
The new study, funded by drug maker Sanofi Aventis, tested metformin in combination with a drug in a new class of type 2 diabetes treatments known as SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs work by promoting the elimination of sugar in the urine and, thus, reduce blood sugar levels. Drugs in this class include Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Jardiance (empagliflozin), and Invokana (canagliflozin).
Researchers found that a combination of metformin with a SGLT2 inhibitor effectively reduced blood sugar, especially after meals, and patients experienced fewer side effects.
SGLT2 inhibitors are still new to the market so long-term data on side effects have yet to be determined. However, the drug evaluator AdverseEvents has warned that the potential for side effects from SGLT2 drugs could be more worrisome than other diabetes medications.
SGLT2 drugs are in a group of type 2 diabetes medications known as incretin mimetics, which include the classes GLP-1 and DPP-4. Brand name medications in this class include Januvia and Byetta, both of which have been linked to a painful inflammation of the pancreas known as acute pancreatitis. They have also been linked to pancreatic cancer.