The FDA just approved a new drug made by Merck and Co for people with diabetes.
Januvia will enhance the body's own ability to lower blood sugars with fewer side effects. Older diabetes drugs side effects include weight gain and diarrhea. However, Januvia costs $3 to $6 a day compared to .50 for older drugs.
This drug is similar to the recently released Byetta.
Januvia has a one-two punch: It increases levels of a hormone that triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin to process blood sugar while simultaneously signaling the liver to quit making glucose. The pill does that by blocking production of an enzyme which normally inactivates that hormone.
Januvia is unlike any other oral drug for treating Type 2 diabete on the market today.
People with Type 2 diabetes suffer because either they produce enough insulin or cells in the body ignore it. Insulin is needed to process all food. Without it, blood sugar levels soar.
The FDA approved Januvia for use in addition to diet and exercise to improve blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes, alone or with other oral medications, when needed.
At a diabetes conference in June, Merck said Januvia lowered blood sugar levels by 0.67 percent in a yearlong trial, or just as much as another, older drug, glipizide. Roughly two-thirds of patients reached the ADA’s 7 percent goal.
A great side effect, Merck said the Januvia patients also lost weight and experienced fewer episodes of excessively low blood sugar than those on glipizide, a member of the sulfonylurea class of drugs. Excess weight is a common problem in Type 2 patients with older diabetes drugs.
Over 230 million people worldwide have diabetes, up from just 30 million in 1985, according to the International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes is expected to affect 350 million people by 2025