Weigh the risks, benefits of newer type 2 diabetes drugs

diabetes illus250x03 Weigh the risks, benefits of newer type 2 diabetes drugsNearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, 8 million of whom don’t even know it. More than 90 percent of these cases are type 2 diabetes, which develops over time and is spurred on by lifestyle habits such as unhealthy diet and limited activity. The disease is not an immediate killer, but it was the seventh-leading cause of death in the country as of 2014. Those diagnosed with this chronic disease are at increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, dementia and amputations due to neuropathy, ratcheting up direct and indirect medical expenses to the tune of about $245 billion.

With so many people affected by type 2 diabetes, and even more expected to develop the condition, drug companies are fast to cash in on the problem, developing treatments to help lower blood sugar levels and reduce comorbidities.

One of the latest class of diabetes drugs to hit the market – known as SGLT2 inhibitors – offer a double whammy of benefits. Not only do they help regulate blood sugar levels, they also help trigger weight loss and lower blood pressure.

SGLT2 inhibitors include the brand names Invokana, Invokamet, Farxiga and Jardiance. Instead of working through the pancreas as other diabetes drugs do, these medications work by blocking the absorption of glucose in the kidneys, allowing patients to excrete excess glucose through their urine.

But even in the short three years that SGLT2 inhibitors have been on the market, they have been associated with serious side effects requiring new or stronger warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). SGLT2 inhibitors have been linked to serious urinary tract infections, ketoacidosis, bone fractures, bone mineral loss, and acute kidney injury. The medications are also being reviewed to determine if they increase the risk of lower limb amputations as well as blood clots.

These new and stronger side effects warnings have resulted in mounting lawsuits against manufacturers of SGLT2 inhibitors, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, makers of Invokana and Invokamet.

Source: Motley Fool