New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests a diabetes drug called empagliflozin, which is designed to lower blood sugar, may also reduce the risk of the most feared complications of diabetes and death.
“It is a first,” says Steve Nissen, MD, Chairman of Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic. “No drug in the past has been able to show an unequivocal reduction in death, this is the first time.”
Empagliflozin was studied in more than seven thousand people with type 2 diabetes who were at high risk for cardiovascular problems.
Participants were randomly assigned to take the drug or a placebo in addition to standard care of diet and exercise.
Results show people taking the drug had:
- 35-percent reduction of being hospitalized for heart failure
- 32-percent reduction in overall mortality
- 38-percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular-related mortality
“Whenever we do a clinical trial, the most important outcome is mortality and the benefit here was very large,” says Dr. Nissen. “It was unprecedented, larger than we’ve seen with virtually any other drugs.”
Dr. Nissen says it’s important to realize that regulators haven’t confirmed the study’s claim that empagliflozin may reduce death and heart disease risk in addition to lowering blood sugar.
He says the drug claims will now have to be evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.