NHS

Diabetes drug Januvia carries no risk to heart health

Januvia, a diabetes drug developed by Merck and Co, carries no risk to heart health, according to a new study.
The researchers separated 14,724 participants – all of whom had type 2 diabetes and a history of heart disease – into two groups: the first was given a dose of Januvia, and the second a placebo. Those participants given Januvia experienced no increase in major heart problems when compared to the placebo group.
Januvia is an oral medication that contains sitagliptin. It is used to lower blood glucose levels. In 2014, Merck recorded Januvia sales of around $4 billio, making it the company’s most lucrative product.
The study recorded the incidence of heart problems over a three-year period. In that time, 11.4 per cent of participants from the Januvia group died as a result of heart problems. In the placebo group, this figure was 11.4.
Neither did Januvia affect the risk of hospitalisation for heart failure, which is a common concern surrounding drugs like Januvia, or DPP-4 inhibitors. The researchers concluded that Januvia poses no risk to patients in terms of exacerbating heart conditions.
“We can be reassured we can use this drug for glucose lowering without affecting the already high cardiovascular risk in people with type 2 diabetes,” said Professor Rury Holma, lead investigator of the study.
The Januvia group also saw no significant increase in their risk of infections, cancer, kidney failure, or severe hypogylcemia. However, there was a noticeable increase in the incidence of acute pancreatitis: 23 participants from the Januvia group developed acute pancreatitis over the course of the study, compared to 12 from the placebo group. But according to Holman “this is hardly a major risk, just something we need to keep an eye on.”

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