This diabetes drug may help prevent serious kidney problems

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In a new study, researchers found that the use of sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors to treat type 2 diabetes may help to lower the risk of serious kidney problems.

The findings provide further support for the use of SGLT2 inhibitors in a broad range of patients with type 2 diabetes.

The research was conducted by a team at Karolinska Institutet and elsewhere.

Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Clinical trials have shown that SGLT2 inhibitors protect kidney (renal) function among patients with type 2 diabetes, but their effect on serious renal events in patients in “real-world” clinical practice remains uncertain.

So the team set out to assess the association between the use of SGLT2 inhibitors and the risk of serious kidney problems using data from routine clinical practice.

They used nationwide register data from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway from 2013-18 to compare the use of SGLT2 inhibitors with another group of diabetes drugs called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors.

Prescription data was used to identify 29,887 new users of SGLT2 inhibitors and 29,887 new users of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors (average age 61 years).

The researchers found that compared with DPP-4 inhibitors, use of SGLT2 inhibitors was linked to a reduced risk of serious renal events (2.6 events per 1000 person-years versus 6.2 events per 1000 person-years).

This equates to a difference of 3.6 fewer events per 1000 person-years or a 58% lower relative risk of serious renal events with SGLT2 inhibitors.

Further analysis found greater risk reduction in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD).

What’s more, because the study was conducted in Scandinavia, findings may not apply to other populations and healthcare systems.

However, they say that in this analysis using nationwide data from three countries, the use of SGLT2 inhibitors, compared with DPP-4 inhibitors, was linked to a much-reduced risk of serious kidney problems.

These findings complement the results of previous randomized trials, suggesting that SGLT2 inhibitors may lower the risk of serious kidney problems in routine clinical practice.

The lead author of the study is Björn Pasternak.

The study is published in BMJ.

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