A diabetes drug which does not hurt your heart

BARCELONA: Mankind’s fight with diabetes and its associated medical complications goes back over 3,500 years ago. In fact, the earliest record of diabetes, written on a third dynasty Egyptian papyrus by physician Hesy-Ra , describes it as a “great emptying of the urine” .

Medical advances since then have progressed from treating diabetes with “wheat grains, fruit and sweet bee” to a host of integrated drugs, apart from a regimen of diet and exercise.

Currently, diabetes (both Type 1 and 2) affects an estimated 371 million people and kills over 4 million annually worldwide. Worryingly, over 63 million of these patients are found to be in India alone. Even more alarming is the correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular (CV) disease. Studies have shown that approximately 50% of diabetics die of a cardiovascular event.

As Dr Mark Kearney, professor of cardiovascular and diabetes research at the British Heart Foundation, University of Leeds, said: “If you are a South Asian, you are not only more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes but also to cardiac failure.” In fact, the cardiovascular age of a diabetic is pegged at 15 years more than the patient’s biological age. In simple terms, people with diabetes are four times more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke as compared to those who don’t have diabetes.

The main outlook in treatment of such patients is not to increase the risk of CV events even further. This is where data from Phase 3 trials in linagliptin, a DPP-4 inhibitor, holds out some sweet news. Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company recently announced at the annual European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting that treatment with linagliptin is not associated with increased risk of CV events in the treatment of T2D. Linagliptin (a 5mg tablet, once daily), is the only DPP-4 inhibitor that does not require dose adjustments in adults with T2D.

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It is marketed as Trajenta in Europe and Tradjenta in the US. The results from the Phase 3 clinical trials of linagliptin, that covered 6,000 people with T2D in various countries, are even more heartwarming when its efficacy, safety and tolerability levels, especially among elderly patients, are considered.

(This correspondent was in Barcelona at the invitation of Boehringer-Ingelheim )