How a Diabetes Rx Saved Lives

Empagliflozin (Jardiance), a diabetes Rx, cut cardiovascular death risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) A common diabetes medication may be helping patients' tickers, too.

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers found that the diabetes drug empagliflozin (brand name Jardiance) significantly cut type 2 diabetes patients' risk of death from heart disease. The Boehringer Ingelheim/Eli Lilly drug also appeared to cut the risk of death from all causes.

This study is the first to find that a diabetes medication significantly cut the risk of heart disease and heart-related death, according to a press release. Type 2 diabetes, a disease marked by the body's inability to regulate blood sugar, is tied to a raised risk of heart disease, among other health problems.

"These results are both novel and exciting for the millions of people living with type 2 diabetes at risk for cardiovascular disease," said lead study author Bernard Zinman, MD, director of the Diabetes Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital and senior scientist at the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, in a press release. "Addressing the burden of cardiovascular events, including death, is at the core of diabetes care, and until now no single diabetes medication has been associated with a reduction in mortality. In this study, empagliflozin was shown to prevent one out of three cardiovascular deaths."

To test the effects of empagliflozin on heart disease and death in type 2 diabetes patients, Dr. Zinman and team gave more than 7,000 type 2 diabetes patients either the drug or a placebo (fake pill). The patients in this study also had heart disease and were receiving standard health care. Over a median follow-up time of around three years, these researchers measured these patients' outcomes.

Overall, patients taking empagliflozin were around 38 percent less likely than the placebo group to die from heart disease, Dr. Zinman and colleagues found.

Compared to the placebo group, patients receiving empagliflozin were 32 percent less likely to die from any cause. Patients taking this drug were also 14 percent less likely than the placebo patients to die from heart disease or have a nonfatal stroke or heart attack, Dr. Zinman and team found.

This study was published Sept. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The makers of Jardiance (Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly) funded this research. Several study author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2015
Last Updated:
September 18, 2015