Features March 2014 Issue

New Diabetes Medications Help Kidneys Absorb Less Sugar

The recently approved drugs may also help with modest weight loss.

Two new medications are available to individuals with diabetes that may help lower blood glucose levels and lead to moderate weight loss. The drugs approved within the last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are SGLT2 inhibitors. They work by blocking the kidneys’ reabsorption of glucose. As a result, more glucose is released in the urine and blood glucose levels come down. The medications, canagliflozin (Ivokana) and dapaglifozin (Farxiga), differ from many diabetes drugs that target the pancreas or the liver to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance or stimulate insulin secretion to lower glucose levels.

The drugs are also associated with moderate weight loss. “The weight loss is an appealing side effect of SGLT2 inhibitors, especially in the growing population of obese individuals with type 2 diabetes,” says Cleveland Clinic endocrinologist Mary Vouyiouklis, MD. “Aside from metformin, which occasionally results in modest weight loss, other oral drugs used to treate type 2 diabetes are weight-neutral or can cause weight gain.”

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