Diabetes drugs Onglyza and Invokana could be more trouble than they’re worth, according to new guidelines from one of the country’s most respected medical organizations.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has urged healthcare providers to exercise restraint when prescribing these and other popular diabetes medications.
Specifically, the guidelines recommend restraint on prescriptions of costly SGLT2 and DPP-4 inhibitors, both of which come at a premium price. Drugs like Onglyza (DPP-4) and Invokana (SGLT2) can also have unpleasant side effects, ranging from infection and kidney problems to acute pancreatitis and even heart failure.
Unsurprisingly, physicians recommend that the risks of these drugs be carefully weighed against their generic counterparts, especially in cases where the patient has limited means to pay for medication.
The brand name drugs are often prescribed as a supplement to generic alternatives to increase the probability that the treatment will be effective. The ACP advises against this approach. Instead, it says that health care providers treating type 2 diabetes should first try metformin, the generic option, and recommend lifestyle adjustments that would support recovery.
Needless to say, this is not welcome news to the manufacturers of the more expensive drugs.
The advice comes at a time when Onglyza manufacturer AstraZeneca, in particular, is under pressure to improve its financial performance. The company’s Q4 2016 sales failed to live up to expectations and it will be eager to expand usage of star drugs like Onglyza, rather than limit them. That aim runs counter to the health and well-being of patients suffering from diabetes, however, who the ACP argues should not be stretched beyond their financial means to obtain a drug that may not be necessary.
AstraZeneca has also been criticized for keeping the price of Onglyza artificially high. The company recently won a patent battle to maintain exclusive rights to produce key drugs like Onglyza and Kombiglyze. Competitor Mylan Pharmaceuticals argued strongly that the patent was invalid and left consumers with a lack of choice in the market for diabetes drugs. A Patent Trial and Appeals Board panel dismissed that allegation, but criticism
Competitor Mylan Pharmaceuticals argued strongly that the patent was invalid and left consumers with a lack of choice in the market for diabetes drugs. A Patent Trial and Appeals Board panel dismissed that allegation, but criticism of the company remains fierce from patients and competitors alike.
The pharmaceutical giants are big enough to shake off individual lawsuits and isolated criticism, but continued opposition and ongoing litigation are a significant concern for them.
If you believe you’ve been harmed by a drug or device as a result of manufacturer’s negligence, make sure you request a case evaluation as soon as possible.