Merck Sharp & Dohme’s type 2 diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin) has been extended for use within NHS Scotland as a dual and triple therapy option.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has accepted the drug’s use to improve glycaemic control in combination with sulphonylurea when diet and exercise plus a maximal dose of sulphonylurea do not provide adequate glycaemic control and when metformin is inappropriate due to contraindications or intolerance. The drug is also accepted for use in combination with sulphonylurea and metformin when diet and exercise plus dual therapy with these agents do not provide adequate glycaemic control.

“The sitagliptin licence extension is positive news for physicians trying to tackle this progressive condition,” said Ian Campbell, Professor of Endocrinology at the Victoria Hospital Kirkcaldy in Fife.

Glucose control has been agreed by physicians to be a critical part of diabetes management but only approximately one in three patients have been shown to reach the desired target, emphasising the need for alternative therapies that can lower glucose levels.

Studies have shown that Januvia, which was licensed in the UK in April last year, can reduce blood glucose levels by as much as 0.9% when used as a triple therapy.

Last week, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published a draft document in regards to new agents in type 2 diabetes. According to the draft, the final guidance is expected to recognise the need for newer treatment options, including dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, which is the class that Januvia falls into.