What Is Saxagliptin?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Saxagliptin is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand name Onglyza™. It is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor prescribed to patients with type two diabetes. This medication encourages the production of insulin in the body following a meal by increasing incretins, which are natural substances. Saxagliptin cannot help treat high blood sugar levels in patients who have type one diabetes or those with diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that requires emergency medical care.

Saxagliptin encourages the production of insulin in the body.
Saxagliptin encourages the production of insulin in the body.

This medication cannot cure diabetes and is not intended to be the sole treatment for diabetic patients. They must also follow a regular exercise plan to encourage the body's effective use of insulin. Patients should work with a registered dietitian and follow a healthy meal plan. A doctor will usually prescribe one dose daily, which may be taken with or without a meal.

Those taking saxagliptin may have to avoid eating grapefruits or products made from the fruit.
Those taking saxagliptin may have to avoid eating grapefruits or products made from the fruit.

Some side effects may occur with the use of saxagliptin, which the patient should report to the doctor if they become bothersome or persistent. These may include a sore throat, a headache, or a runny or stuffy nose, which could be signs of an upper respiratory infection. Some patients may notice bloating, nausea, and vomiting, along with stomach pain and diarrhea. Painful or burning urination has also been reported.

More serious side effects may occur rarely, which require a doctor's immediate care. Signs of a possible allergic reaction can include tightness in the chest, facial swelling, and problems breathing. A rash, hives, or itching may also occur. Other serious side effects can include swelling of the feet or hands.

Special precautions should be taken to ensure general health while using saxagliptin. Patients should discuss their use of grapefruit or grapefruit products with their doctors. Elderly patients may be more susceptible to side effects, while the safety and efficacy of the use of this drug by children has not yet been established, as of 2011. The doctor will likely order periodic lab tests, including fasting glucose tests to monitor the effectiveness of this drug. It may cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, especially when combined with other diabetes medications, which should be remedied with a fast-acting source of glucose.

Before using saxagliptin, patients should disclose their other medical conditions. As of 2011, it is unknown whether this medicine passes into breast milk. Women who are pregnant should discuss the potential risks with their physicians. Patients should inform their doctors if they have ever had kidney disease or diabetic ketoacidosis, or if they have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Saxagliptin may interact with other drugs, including antifungals, nefazodone, and other medications for diabetes, including insulin. It may also interact with nateglinide, atazanavir, and tolbutamide. Patients must disclose their other medications and supplements before using this medicine for type two diabetes.

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