Take saxagliptin tablets regularly every day.
Remember to follow any advice you have been given about your diet and taking exercise.
The most common side-effects are headache, stomach upset and nose, throat or urine infections.
|Type of medicine||An antidiabetic medicine|
|Used for||Adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus|
|Also called||Onglyza®; Komboglyze® (a combination tablet containing saxagliptin with metformin)|
Insulin is a hormone which is made naturally in your body, in the pancreas. It helps to control the levels of glucose (sugar) in your blood. If your body does not make enough insulin, or if it does not use the insulin it makes effectively, this results in the condition called sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus).
People with diabetes need treatment to control the amount of sugar in their blood. This is because good control of blood sugar levels reduces the risk of complications later on. Some people can control the sugar in their blood by making changes to the food they eat but, for other people, medicines like saxagliptin are given alongside the changes in diet.
Saxagliptin works in part by increasing the amount of insulin produced by your body. It also reduces the amount of a substance called glucagon being produced by your pancreas. Glucagon causes your liver to produce more sugar, so by reducing the amount of glucagon in your body, this also helps to reduce the levels of glucose in your blood.
Before taking saxagliptin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking saxagliptin it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or with the way your kidneys work.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take saxagliptin
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about saxagliptin tablets and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking them.
- Take saxagliptin exactly as your doctor tells you to. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Do not crush or break the tablets - they should be swallowed whole.
- The usual dose is one 5 mg tablet a day (Onglyza® brand). You may be prescribed a lower strength of tablet if you have a problem with the way your kidneys work. You can generally take the tablet at a time of day to suit you, but it is best to take your doses at the same time of day each day. You can take saxagliptin before or after a meal.
- If you have been prescribed a combination tablet of saxagliptin with metformin (Komboglyze® brand) you should take one tablet twice a day, just after meals. There are two strengths of Komboglyze® tablet - both strengths contain the same amount of saxagliptin but the amount of metformin differs. You will be prescribed the strength of tablets that fits with your current metformin dose.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- It is important that you keep your regular doctor's and clinic appointments. This is so that your progress can be monitored. You will need regular check-ups with an eye clinic and a foot clinic as well as with your doctor and diabetes clinic.
- Your doctor may recommend that you test for sugar (glucose) in your blood or urine regularly to check that your diabetes is being controlled. Your doctor or diabetes nurse will show you how to do this.
- If you have been given advice by your doctor about changes to your diet, stopping smoking or taking regular exercise, it is important for you to follow the advice you have been given.
- Do not drink alcohol, as it can affect the control of your blood sugar. Ask your doctor if you need further advice about this.
- If you are a driver you should take special care, as your ability to concentrate may be affected if your diabetes is not well controlled. You may be advised to check your blood sugar levels before you travel and to have a snack with you on long journeys.
- Check with your doctor before taking up any new physical exercise, as this will have an effect on your blood sugar levels and you may need to check your blood or urine levels more regularly.
- Make sure you know what it feels like if your blood sugar is low. This is known as hypoglycaemia, or a 'hypo'. Although saxagliptin is unlikely to cause low blood sugar, other medicines that you are taking for diabetes alongside it may. The first signs of hypoglycaemia are feeling shaky or anxious, sweating, looking pale, feeling hungry, having a feeling that your heart is pounding (palpitations), and feeling dizzy.
- If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, you should tell the person carrying out the treatment that you have diabetes and that you are taking saxagliptin.
- If you get unusually thirsty, pass urine more frequently than normal, and feel very tired, you should let your doctor know. These are signs that there is too much sugar in your blood and your treatment may need adjusting.
- Treatment for diabetes is usually lifelong. Continue to take saxagliptin tablets unless you are advised otherwise by your doctor.
Can saxagliptin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with saxagliptin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common saxagliptin side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Stomach upset, tummy (abdominal) discomfort, diarrhoea||Stick to simple foods and drink plenty of water|
|Cold and flu-like infections, urine infection||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable remedy. If troublesome, let your doctor know|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling dizzy or tired||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better|
|Skin rash||Let your doctor or diabetes clinic know about this|
Important: medicines like saxagliptin can cause persistent and severe tummy pain in a few people. If this happens to you, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible as it can be a symptom of an inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis).
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store saxagliptin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Onglyza® 2.5 mg and 5 mg film-coated tablets; Bristol Myers Squibb-AstraZeneca EEIG, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2014.
- British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall