Januvia: New oral diabetes medication gets federal OK

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Januvia: New oral diabetes medication gets federal OK

Januvia, a new diabetes medication, enhances the body's ability to lower elevated blood sugar.

What happened? A new diabetes medication has joined the arsenal of drugs available to treat type 2 diabetes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sitagliptin phosphate (Januvia), an oral diabetes medication in a new class of drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors. Taken as a once-a-day tablet, Januvia enhances the body's ability to lower elevated blood sugar.

When blood sugar rises — after a meal, for example — certain proteins stimulate the release of insulin, a hormone that regulates the absorption of sugar into your cells. But when you have type 2 diabetes, your body is resistant to the effects of insulin or produces some, but not enough, insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar level. Enter Januvia. The medication blocks an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase 4, or DPP-4, which breaks down the proteins that trigger the release of insulin. The result is better insulin release and blood sugar control.

Januvia isn't necessarily a front-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. It's approved for use in people who have type 2 diabetes that's not adequately controlled with diet, exercise and certain other commonly prescribed oral diabetes medications.

In clinical studies, the most common side effects of Januvia were upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat and diarrhea. Weight gain and low blood sugar — troublesome side effects of various other oral diabetes medications — don't appear to be as likely with Januvia.

What does this mean to you? Controlling your blood sugar is essential to avoiding long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. If you're struggling to control your blood sugar with diet, exercise and traditional diabetes medications, Januvia may provide a welcome alternative. Ask your doctor if Januvia would be an appropriate addition to your current treatment plan, or if the drug could be used in place of the medications you're currently taking.

Last Updated: 10/18/2006
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