How do Januvia and Onglyza help treat diabetes?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD

Januvia and Onglyza increase the amount of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in the body. Under normal circumstances, GLP-1 lasts only a few minutes in the blood before an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase 4, or DPP-4, breaks it down. Januvia and Onglyza prevent DPP-4 from breaking down GLP-1, so the GLP-1 stays in the blood longer. In response, the body makes more insulin and less glucagon than it would without Januvia or Onglyza. Together, these actions lower the blood sugar level.

Januvia and Onglyza are easy to take and generally have few side effects. They are expensive but have less of a tendency to cause weight gain than some of the other medications and carry a fairly low risk of hypoglycemia. Januvia has been approved for use in the United States only since late 2006, and so far, its safety track record is good, though there have been some reports of pancreatitis. Onglyza became available in 2010 and has a similar safety profile.

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

More About this Book

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

Bob Greene has helped millions of Americans become fit and healthy with his life-changing Best Life plan. Now, for the first time, Oprah's trusted expert on diet and fitness teams up with a leading...
Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Onglyza (saxagliptin) is approved for use by people with type 2 diabetes which is also being controlled by diet and exercise, but not type 1. Type 1 diabetes will not respond to Onglyza, because Onglyza impacts insulin production and a person with type 1 diabetes does not produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes cannot be controlled without insulin injections. 

Continue Learning about Antidiabetic

what are the side effects of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors ?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Side effects of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors may include digestive tract problems, such as stomach p...
More Answers
does long-acting insulin cause less weight gain ?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Long-acting insulin (such as Lantus and Levemir) and newer premixed insulin (such as Humulog 50/...
More Answers
do alpha-glucosidase inhibitors have any drug interactions ?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Drugs that may cause hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia need to be administered with caution to prevent l...
More Answers
if i need insulin to control my blood glucose , which type should i take ?
American Diabetes AssociationAmerican Diabetes Association
Your insulin doses should mimic how insulin works naturally in the body. In people without diabetes,...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.