Selective Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 (SGLT2) Inhibitors

What are selective sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors?

For some people with type 2 diabetes, selective sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are a type of drug that can be used to help control their blood sugar levels.

SGLT2 inhibitors can work in two ways to help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. One of the kidneys’ functions is to reabsorb glucose back into the body when needed, but this can contribute to increased blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. SGLT2 inhibitors can help to control blood sugar by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose into the body and by helping the kidneys to excrete more glucose in your urine.

The AACE treatment guidelines suggest that SGLT2 inhibitors are generally prescribed for people who:

  • Need to try a diabetes medication, because they are not able to manage their blood sugar with lifestyle management (healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss)
  • Need to try adding on an additional medication because they have already tried treatment with one or more other medications for type 2 diabetes, but have been unable to control their blood sugar.

SGLT2 inhibitor drugs are sold under some of the following brand names:

What is Invokana (canagliflozin)?

Invokana (canagliflozin) is a type of SGLT2 inhibitor drug used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes in addition to lifestyle management (healthy diet and regular exercise). For some people, treatment with Invokana can also help them to lose some weight. However, Invokana was not developed for weight loss.

Invokana comes in a tablet taken by mouth once daily, usually before the first meal of the day. Be sure to carefully follow your healthcare providers’ instructions for taking Invokana. Before prescribing Invokana and during treatment, your healthcare provider will test your kidneys to make sure they are functioning well. People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Invokana (canagliflozin) should not take it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.

Some of the most common side effects experienced by people who take Invokana include:

Taking Invokana can also cause serious side effects in some people, including:

  • Ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood or urine)
  • Kidney problems
  • High levels of potassium in the blood
  • Serious urinary tract infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Bone fractures

Talk with your healthcare providers about the symptoms of the serious side effects that treatment with Invokana can cause, and be sure to let them know if you experience any side effects from Invokana or any of your medications for type 2 diabetes.

What is Jardiance (empagliflozin)?

Jardiance is a SGLT2 inhibitor medication used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and regular physical exercise. Jardiance contains the active ingredient empagliflozin, For some people, treatment with Jardiance can also help them to lose some weight or to slightly lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). However, Jardiance was not developed for weight loss or blood pressure reduction.

Most people take Jardiance in a tablet once per day in the morning with or without food, but you should always follow your healthcare providers’ specific instructions for taking this or any other medication. Both before and during treatment with Jardiance, your healthcare provider will usually perform tests to make sure that your kidneys are functioning well. People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Jardiance (empagliflozin) should not take it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.

Some of the most common side effects reported by people who take Jardiance are:

  • Urinary tract infections and yeast infections (in women)

Jardiance can also cause serious side effects in some people, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood or urine)
  • Serious urinary tract infections
  • Genital yeast infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems

Your healthcare provider will let you know about the symptoms of these side effects. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects from taking Jardiance or any other medication for your type 2 diabetes.

What is Farxiga (dapagliflozin)?

Farxiga is medication that can be used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes. Farxiga’s active ingredient, dapagliflozin, is an SGLT2 inhibitor that can help to control blood sugar levels when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Farxiga is an oral medication that comes in a pill. Your healthcare provider will instruct you exactly how to take Farxiga, but most people take it once a day in the morning with or without food. Before being prescribed Farxiga and during treatment, you should have your kidneys tested to make sure that they are working well. People who are allergic to any of the ingredients in Farxiga (dapagliflozin) should not take it. Always check with your healthcare professional about any potential drug interactions before starting treatment.

Some of the most common side effects of Farxiga include:

  • Genital yeast infections
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sore throat
  • Changes in urination

Treatment with Farxiga is also linked to several serious side effects:

  • Ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood or urine)
  • Kidney problems
  • Serious urinary tract infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased LDL cholesterol levels (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Slightly higher risk of bladder cancer
  • Bone fractures

You should talk with your healthcare provider about the signs and symptoms of the side effects that taking Farxiga can cause. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any side effects from taking this or any other medication.

Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: April 2017
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