How Januvia Helps Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Pharmacist with customer

An oral medication called Januvia (sitagliptin phosphate) is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for management of type 2 diabetes. It's the first in a class of drugs called DPP-4 inhibitors. Januvia lowers blood sugar levels by blocking an enzyme known as dipeptidyl peptidase IV or DPP-4.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body's important source of fuel. With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin—a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells—or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.

More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.

How Januvia Works

DPP-4 is responsible for breaking down the proteins that stimulate the insulin-producing cells after a meal. If DPP-4 is inhibited, then the proteins can activate the release of insulin for a longer period of time, thereby lowering the glucose level in the blood.

Januvia showed good results in recent trials both in combination with other drugs, such as metformin, and also by itself. It is prescribed for type 2 diabetes only.

For some people, diet, exercise, and conventional medications are not enough to keep blood glucose levels in a good range. Januvia has been successful in clinical trials at helping to lower them when traditional methods aren't enough. Diet and exercise are still important additions to medical management, however.

Januvia works by prolonging the stimulation of insulin production. The risk of hypoglycemia is unlikely because Januvia only works when it's needed. For example, if there is no glucose in the blood, then there is no action from Januvia. But, after a meal when glucose levels rise, then Januvia will work to lower that level.

Also, scientists have found that there is little risk of weight gain with Januvia, unlike some other oral diabetes medications.

Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects include upper respiratory infection, sore throat, and/or headache.

Januvia is processed through the kidneys. People who have decreased renal function may need to have their dose of Januvia adjusted by their doctor to a lower dose. Renal function should be assessed before taking Januvia.

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