Evidence-based use of newer agents in type 2 diabetes (2021)

Type of publication:
Journal article

*Morris, D.

Journal of Prescribing Practice; Jun 2021; vol. 3 (no. 6); p. 224-234

The DPP-4 inhibitors, GLP-1 receptor agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors are newer agents for glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes that can offer additional health benefits. All three treatments carry a low risk of hypoglycaemia. GLP-1 RAs and SGLT-2 inhibitors are associated with weight loss and DPP-4 inhibitors are weight neutral. The GLP-1 RAs and SGLT-2 inhibitors offer protection against cardiovascular events. SGLT-2 inhibitors are the agents of choice to add on to metformin for glycaemic control in chronic kidney disease and heart failure, with GLP-1 RAs an alternative to be considered if SGLT-2 inhibitors are poorly tolerated or contraindicated. DPP-4 inhibitors are very well tolerated. Gastrointestinal side-effects can be problematic with GLP-1 RAs though frequently these settle with time. Genital thrush is a common side-effect with SGLT-2 inhibitors and diabetic ketoacidosis is a rare but serious side-effect. It is important that healthcare professionals with responsibility in diabetes familiarise themselves with these treatments in order to know when and how to safely and effectively deploy them. The selection of newer agents should be based on careful assessment of individual circumstances. Overall, the standpoint has shifted from a largely glucocentric approach to one considering the impact of treatments on weight, risk of hypoglycaemia, and co-morbidities (notably atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart failure and chronic kidney disease). Case histories are used in the article to illustrate the pragmatic use of these agents.