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Pill Box: New SGLT-2 inhibitors offer exciting promise

click to enlarge John R. White chairs WSU-Spokane's Department of Pharmacotherapy.
  • John R. White chairs WSU-Spokane's Department of Pharmacotherapy.

My husband has type 2 diabetes. He and I recently heard about a study which showed that one of the new diabetes medications not only reduced blood sugar but also reduced the rates of death due to heart disease. What is this medicine and is it something that should be recommended?

The results of this study, which was called EMPA-REG, produced findings that astounded the diabetes community. The medication, called empagliflozin (Jardiance), is one of several diabetes medications known as SGLT-2 inhibitors. Essentially, what these medications do is promote loss of "extra" sugar through the urine. The most exciting thing about the EMPA-REG study? It was the first time a blood-sugar-lowering diabetes medication was shown to be associated with a reduction in deaths due to heart problems and a reduction in deaths due to all causes. This reduction in death in the patients treated with empagliflozin was more than that seen in patients who had other risk-reducing medications in their treatment, but weren't treated with empagliflozin. Should this medication be recommended? Maybe, but your husband should discuss this with his provider. Like all medications, empagliflozin and other SGLT-2 inhibitors have side effects. Your husband's provider can work with him to weigh the potential benefits and risks. That being said, this medication could potentially be appropriate for your husband.

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