Regular use of the drug showed improvement in the cell function that controls blood sugar levels

A new drug for type-2 diabetes was launched in the city on Friday. The drug was introduced in metros like Mumbai and Delhi earlier this month. Launched by Boehringer Ingelheim India (BI) and Eli Lilly and Company, the 5mg film-coated tablet Linagliptin is sold under the brand name Trajenta.

Type-2 diabetes is a progressive disease and often, over a period of time, people are unable to maintain their sugar levels, requiring therapies to prevent diabetes-induced complications. New drugs are constantly being tested and introduced in the hope of finding a solution to maintain the blood glucose levels at acceptable levels.

Chennai-based diabetologist V. Mohan said that the new tablet is an improvement on the other three products in the same class as a person has to take it only once a day. “The earlier tablets like sitagliptine, vildagliptine and sexagliptine have proved to be effective. This group of drugs are quite effective with very mild hypoglycaemia-inducing property. Linagliptin can be given even if (a person has) renal or liver failure.”

According to him, the tablet has been marketed by the company after conducting a five-year study for its effect on the human cardiovascular system. “Normally when such drugs come into the market, the Food and Drug Administration in the US calls for a five-year study. Other drugs underwent the study after being launched but in this case the study was done before launch and was found to be safe,” he said.

Regular use of the drug showed improvement in pancreatic beta cells function, an important component in controlling blood sugar levels. The tablet has been found to maintain the levels for a 24-hour period, he said.

He however cautioned that these drugs have been around only for six to eight years and hence there is no knowing what the side effects could be when it is used for a long term. Another factor would be the cost of the tablets itself. Dr. Mohan said if the price is reduced then more patients would benefit.

The drugs in this category are quite pricey. A person who is prescribed sitagliptin tablet, which is one dose per day, spends around Rs. 40 on each dose while vidagliptin costs around Rs. 20. According to a company spokesperson, per day therapy of linagliptin costs Rs. 42.70.