Being diabetic has never been more precarious. And that’s not just due to the disease.
It’s because right before Christmas, the FDA gifted Merck and Pfizer with a triple-play approval of three highly dangerous type 2 diabetes meds.
These drugs are in a fairly new class called SGLT2 inhibitors. And taking them has turned out to be an incredibly risky way of keeping your blood sugar under control.
Despite the fact that some very serious warnings keep popping up for this group of meds — such as a doubled risk of amputations and serious urinary tract infections — the FDA appears to have no hesitation about allowing more of them to flood the market.
It’s quite clear that no drug is too dangerous for Big Pharma to put out… or for the FDA to rubber-stamp out its door.
But where these particular meds are concerned, drugmakers are using a very sneaky and tricky approach to try and grab your attention — and get you to go “ask your doctor.”
‘A cascade of adverse events’
The throngs of those suffering from type 2 diabetes in the U.S. has created a bottomless pot of gold for drugmakers.
And it doesn’t even matter how many experts try to convince the FDA that treating diabetes doesn’t have to come at the expense of losing a toe, foot, or leg… or experiencing a deadly drop in blood pressure!
Now, there are three new tongue-twisting brands on the market that anyone who has this disease will be playing dodgeball with — Steglatro, Steglujan, and Segluromet. (Do drugmakers pick Scrabble tiles out of a bag to come up with these names?)
But the most important thing you need to know about these new drugs isn’t how to pronounce them — it’s what they can do to you.
SGLT2 inhibitors first hit the market back in 2013 when the FDA approved Farxiga. Then, Invokana, XigduoXR, Jardiance, Synjardy, and Glyxambi came in rapid succession. And now, we have the new “S” triplets.
All of these drugs are designed to lower your blood sugar by forcing glucose out in your urine. While that may sound simple, as one drug expert said, it can trigger “a cascade of adverse events.”
These can include urinary tract infections, serious kidney and heart problems, a condition called ketoacidosis (a potentially life-threatening rise in acid in the blood), and amputations.
And a quick look at the spanking new label for Steglatro doesn’t give any reason to believe that this SGLT2 med is any safer.
It carries a long list of “WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS” such as “hypotension” (dangerously low blood pressure), the ketoacidosis I just told you about, “acute kidney injury and impairment,” those urinary tract infections, and “lower limb amputation,” to name a few.
Oh, and if you’re pregnant, this drug can also harm your unborn child.
The other two “S” drugs are combos — one is mixed with another type 2 drug Januvia, and the other is combined with metformin.
And remember when I said that drugmakers are using some sneaky ways to sell you on these risky SGLT2 meds?
Well, if you’ve watched TV for more than five minutes in the last few months, no doubt you’ve seen the commercials for Jardiance. It shows a production crew of super-skinny people walking around a city looking for portly diabetics to give them the “big news” that diabetes can up your risk of a heart attack… and only Jardiance can save you!
First, all those people in that commercial are paid actors, not worried diabetics who end up agreeing that it’s “time to think about Jardiance.”
Second, as we told you last year, the claim that Jardiance has a “life-saving cardiovascular benefit” was permitted by the FDA based on a type of statistical mumbo-jumbo called “relative risk.”
Even the FDA’s advisory committee wasn’t all gung-ho for allowing them to say it, with 11 members voting against the idea. And as we told you, those few words are expected to bulk up Jardiance sales by an astronomical $2 billion during the next decade.
Whatever new ploys the Mad Men of Madison Avenue come up with to sell this trio of drugs, remember this: Big Pharma will twist and turn the facts so well that it will be nearly impossible to see the forest of side effects for the trees.
And while these meds may be the latest, they are far from the greatest way to control your blood sugar.
“U.S. FDA approves new diabetes drug from Merck and Pfizer” Reuters, December 20, 2017, reuters.com