Jardiance sharply reduced chances of dying in diabetic patients at high risk of heart complications, a study shows, making the medication the first to lengthen diabetics' lives.
The daily pill for Type 2 diabetes reduced deaths from heart complications by 38%, deaths from any cause by 32% and hospitalizations due to chronic heart failure by 35%, according to the study by Jardiance makers Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.
Heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular damage kill about half of Type 2 diabetes patients, as excess sugar in their blood steadily damages the heart and blood vessels.
Heart complications are the top cause of death in diabetics. For those who've already had a heart attack or stroke, the two diseases together shorten life expectancy by 12 years.
Jardiance belongs to a new class of Type 2 diabetes medications known as SGLT2 inhibitors, which lower blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through the urine.
In May, the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning to patients that use of SGLT2 inhibitors may lead to ketoacidosis, a condition where the body produces high levels of acid in the blood.
Jardiance's results could cut into sales of some blockbuster diabetes medications currently being sold, most notably, the class of drugs known as DPP-4 inhibitors.
Such drugs have earned billions in sales for producers like Merck, maker of Januvia, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which makes Nesina, and AstraZeneca, maker of Onglyza. But since 2008, DPP-4 inhibitors have been required by the FDA to undergo studies regarding possible links between their use and higher risks for heart failure.
In April, an FDA advisory panel recommended a change to the labeling of Onglyza, adding safety information to reflect a heightened risk for heart failure associated with its use. A post-market study found the patients taking the drug had a 27% increase in hospitalizations for heart failure as well as a higher risk of all-cause mortality.
—Steven Ross Johnson contributed to this story.