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Diabetes Health Center

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FDA OKs New Type 2 Diabetes Drug

Drug, Called Januvia, Is 1st Approved Drug in New Class of Diabetes Drugs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 17, 2006 -- People with type 2 diabetes have a new treatment option: a drug called Januvia.

Januvia is the first in a new class of drugs called DPP-4 inhibitors that help the body control high blood sugar.

Januvia comes in tablets; patients take the medication once per day.

The drug may be used with diet and exercise to improve blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Januvia may also be taken with the oral diabetes drugs metformin, Avandia, or Actos when any of those drugs, along with diet and exercise, don't adequately control blood sugar.

Metformin is sold as Glucophage and as generic metformin.

Treating Type 2 Diabetes

Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

That figure includes more than 14 million people diagnosed with diabetes and about 6 million with undiagnosed diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, according to the FDA.

Type 2 diabetes is "very, very common," the FDA's Robert Meyer, MD, told reporters in a news conference.

"There are a number of other oral medications available," notes Meyer. He directs the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation ll.

"Not everybody optimally responds to each medication and not everybody can tolerate each medication," Meyer says. "So having a new drug in a new class for such a widely prevalent disease is important in and of its own right."

How Januvia Works

In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't produce enough insulin -- a hormone that controls blood sugar -- or doesn't respond properly to insulin.

Over time, uncontrolled high blood sugar can make serious problems -- including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage -- more likely.

Januvia prolongs the activity of proteins that boost the release of insulin after blood sugar rises, such as after a meal.

Januvia does this by blocking an enzyme called DPP-IV, which breaks down these proteins.

By sidelining that enzyme, Januvia lets those insulin-boosting proteins last longer, leading to better blood sugar control.

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