A PILL which slashes blood sugar levels and offers hope to millions of diabetes sufferers has been launched in the UK.
Experts say the drug, canagliflozin, which is taken once a day, is a vital new weapon in the battle against the Type 2 diabetes epidemic and its devastating complications.
It reduces blood sugar levels in people for whom diet and lifestyle measures or other blood sugar-lowering medicines do not work well enough, say the manufacturers Janssen.
The drug, also called Invokana, blocks the re-absorption of glucose in the kidneys, which is instead passed in the urine.
Professor Anthony Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Birmingham, said: “We are seeing a growing number of people with Type 2 diabetes which can have the extremely serious consequences of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. Canagliflozin, which can offer patients significant reductions in blood sugar levels whilst not increasing risks of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars), represents an important new option in the management of a major UK epidemic.”
Canagliflozin, which can offer patients significant reductions in blood sugar levels whilst not increasing risks of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars), represents an important new option in the management of a major UK epidemic
Professor Anthony Barnett
In draft guidance Nice said canagliflozin is “useful” and recommended its use for some NHS patients with Type 2 diabetes when used in combination with other anti-diabetic drugs.
Professor Carole Longson, of Nice, said: “Type 2 diabetes can be difficult to treat and most people will eventually require a number of drugs, often used simultaneously.
“Canagliflozin represents a useful addition to the armoury of anti-diabetic drugs available. Nice is pleased to be able to recommend its use for some people with Type 2 diabetes.”
Dr Peter Barnes, medical director at Janssen UK, added: “With the relentless increase in Type 2 diabetes, there is an ongoing need for additional treatment options.
“Not only does canagliflozin provide a new once-a-day oral treatment to help control blood glucose levels, it offers real value to the NHS.”
Type 2 diabetes is a serious chronic disease that causes sugar – glucose – levels in the blood to become too high.
It is associated with 24,000 excess deaths each year, mainly from cardiovascular disease.
There are 3.2 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. Type 2 accounts for between 85 and 95 per cent of all people with diabetes.
It develops when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly and is treated with a healthy diet, increased physical activity and medication.
According to the National Diabetes Audit, more than one in three patients with Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales are currently failing to achieve recommended blood glucose levels.
Simon O’Neill of Diabetes UK said: “Developing new treatments that give people more choice about how to manage their condition effectively are really important and so we look forward to seeing the results of the Nice consultation.”