Patients with diabetes type II will now have access to a novel treatment option to help control blood sugar levels following the launch of AstraZeneca/Bristol-Myers Squibb's Forxiga in the UK this week.

The move follows the regulatory seal of approval for Forxiga (dapagliflozin) in Europe earlier this month, making it the first of a new class of drugs called sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors to hit the market.

The medicine has a unique mode of action, cutting the amount of glucose reabsorbed into the body via the kidney.

This allows doctors to give the drug to patients alongside other glucose-lowering medication such as insulin to help improve glycaemic control, and as per its approval, the once-daily pill can also be used as a monotherapy to treat patients intolerant to metformin.

Approval of Forxiga in Europe came on the back of an 11-trial clinical trial programme involving 5,693 patients, which showed that a significantly higher proportion of patients taking the drug achieved the target of HbA1c < 7% compared to the placebo arm.

And in a further potential benefit, the firms said clinical studies also showed that Forxiga can induce reductions in weight and blood pressure, important factors for patients with the disease.

Unmet need

Despite available therapies, many patients are still not hitting their blood glucose targets, which puts them at a higher risk of developing the serious consequences associated with the disease. 

Therefore, there is a "critical need for new treatments", said John Wilding, Professor of Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician, Head of Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinical Research Unit, University Hospital Aintree, adding that Forxiga represents"a significant advance in the treatment of type II diabetes".

In the UK, the cost for one month’s supply of dapagliflozin 10mg is £36.59 for 28 days supply, a PR spokesperson told PharmaTimes UK News online.