Diabetes Drugs Go Head-to-Head

Tradjenta for type 2 diabetes associated with lower risk of hypoglycemia and weight gain

(RxWiki News) When it comes to choosing diabetes treatments, patients and doctors have many options. To see which drugs will work best for which patients, researchers often put medications head-to-head.

Both Tradjenta (linagliptin) and Amaryl (glimepiride) may lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, Tradjenta may control diabetes with fewer cases of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar) and heart problems.

"Ask your doctor which diabetes drug is right for you."

Amaryl is part of a class of drugs called sulphonylureas. Combined with metformin (the oldest diabetes drug), sulphonylureas can reduce blood sugar levels. But some of these drugs are associated with hypoglycemia and weight gain.

Baptist Gallwitz, MD, of Eberhard-Karls University of Tubingen in Germany, and colleagues wanted to see if Tradjenta worked as well as Amaryl. 

They split 777 patients with type 2 diabetes into two groups: one that took Amaryl plus metformin and one that took Tradjenta plus metformin.

The researchers found that patients taking Amaryl had greater reductions in levels of HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) than patients taking Tradjenta. More specifically, Amaryl lowered HbA1c by 0.36 percent while Tradjenta lowered HbA1c by 0.16 percent.

These findings show that the two drugs are similarly effective. Still, the older drug Amaryl appears to be more effective.

While patients in both groups had similar reductions in levels of HbA1c, patients taking Tradjenta had fewer negative side effects, including fewer cases of hypoglycemia and fewer heart problems.

According to the study's authors, these results give doctors a better understanding of the effectiveness of these type 2 diabetes drugs.

These findings, they write, could help doctors decide the best treatment for patients when metformin alone is not enough.

The research was funded by Boehringer Ingelheim, the developer of Tradjenta.

The results of this long-term randomized active-controlled trial are published in The Lancet.

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Review Date: 
July 10, 2012