For type 2 diabetes patients, a combination of two medications may provide better blood sugar control than either one of them when taken separately.

It all has to do with a newer class of drugs known as sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. These medicines help the body to get rid of excess blood sugar by excreting it in the urine.

Unfortunately, the body may react to the loss of this unwanted sugar by making more sugar in the liver. The commonly used diabetes drug metformin fights this process, slowing down the body’s sugar production.

When an SGLT2 inhibitor is taken together with metformin, the drugs team up to deliver a sort of “one-two punch,” enabling the body to do a better job reducing blood sugar levels and then keeping them down.

The Evidence

When this combination therapy was given to diabetic mice, the effect was so dramatic that it only took two weeks to see an improvement in their HbA1c levels – a long-term measure of the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. And researchers reported minimal side effects.

But this encouraging news is not limited to lab mice – the combination therapy has proven itself in people too. Based on successful clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Invokamet, the first fixed-dose medicine that combines an SGLT2 inhibitor and metformin in a single pill.

Pills don’t relieve you of the fundamental need to lead a healthy lifestyle to control your diabetes. Invokamet is approved for treating type 2 patients whose diabetes is not adequately controlled by diet, exercise, and certain medications.

Talk with your doctor to learn whether a combination of diabetes medications may benefit you.

To learn more about diabetes medicines:

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How to Avoid the Six Most Common Medication Mistakes - Part 2