On October 17, 2006, the oral medication Januvia (sitagliptin phosphate) was granted approval by the FDA. Januvia is the first diabetes treatment approved in a new class of drugs known as DDP-4 inhibitors that enhances the body’s own ability to lower elevated blood sugar.
Manufactured by Merck and Co., Januvia is indicated for use in addition to diet and exercise to improve blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, alone or in combination with two other commonly prescribed oral diabetes medications—metformin or a PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma) agonist, when either of these drugs alone, along with diet and exercise, don’t provide adequate blood sugar control.
According to the FDA, “Januvia prolongs the activity of proteins that increase the release of insulin after blood sugar rises, such as after a meal. Januvia does this by blocking an enzyme (dipeptidyl peptidase IV or DPP-IV), which breaks down these proteins, leading to better blood sugar control.
The most common side effects in clinical studies were upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, and diarrhea.