International study reaffirms cardiovascular benefits associated with medication used to treat type 2 diabetes

A large-scale international study published in prestigious journal The Lancet, Diabetes & Endocrinology, has provided further support for the cardiovascular benefits associated with the newest group of oral medications used to treat type 2 diabetes - SGLT2 inhibitors.

In previous studies involving clinical trials, SGLT2 inhibitors have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart failure, kidney disease, myocardial infarction, stroke and death.

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Now researchers from 13 countries have reinforced these findings by directly comparing the risk of cardiovascular events and death in type 2 diabetes patients using SGLT2 inhibitors versus those using DPP-4 inhibitors, another group of oral medications used to treat type 2 diabetes.

In this multi-national comparative cohort study, with the Australian component being led by the Baker Institute and Monash University, the data from nearly 400,000 patients reaffirmed the cardiovascular benefits associated with SGLT2 inhibitors, compared to DPP-4 inhibitors.

Dr Jenni Ilomaki from Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, says the scale of the study is what makes it so exciting.

“The global team used data from a wide range of geographical locations comprising the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, and North America – this included 193,124 new users of SGLT2 inhibitors and 193,124 new users of DPP-4 inhibitors, so it was a pretty significant undertaking,” says Dr Ilomaki.

The Baker Institute’s Deputy Director, Clinical and Population Health, Professor Jonathan Shaw, says it’s promising to see the same benefits being shown outside of a controlled clinical trial environment.

“This study shows the benefits that were seen in clinical trials are also occurring in the real world. Furthermore, while clinical trials mainly focused on those at very high cardiovascular risk, this study also observed benefits for people with more moderate levels of risk,” Professor Shaw said.

In Australia, SGLT2 inhibitors are considered as ‘second line’ treatment, which means they are commenced as an add-on treatment after standard treatment with metformin or sulfonylurea has been first trialled – medicines widely prescribed to manage type 2 diabetes.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics National Health Survey (2017 – 18) an estimated one million Australian adults have type 2 diabetes, making up five percent of the total population.

Data for the Australian component to the study was obtained from the National Diabetes Services Scheme, National Death Index and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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