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New once-daily diabetes drug licensed

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The European Commission has given a once-a-day pill for diabetes patients marketing authorisation.

Dapagliflozin (Forxiga) is used to help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood glucose levels.

Clinicians will be able to prescribe the treatment, from Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca, to patients in the UK by the end of November.

Dapagliflozin is recommended for use alongside other treatments to lower glucose levels, including insulin, for patients who have not been able to bring them under control by improving their diet and leading more active lives.

But it can also be prescribed as a single treatment for those who are unable to take metformin and who are finding healthy eating and exercise to be an ineffective method of controlling their blood glucose levels.

A trial of the drug with metformin showed patients experienced similar drops in blood glucose levels as those being given a sulphonylurea alongside metformin - the standard treatment for people with type 2 diabetes who find monotherapy with metformin ineffective.

Dapagliflozin was also found to be an effective way for patients to lose weight. Those prescribed dapagliflozin plus metformin lost 3.7kg after two years - more than 5kg less than those taking a sulphonylurea plus metformin, who typically gained 1.36kg.

Clifford Bailey, professor of clinical science at Aston University, said controlling blood glucose levels was vital for patients with type 2 diabetes, as was helping them manage their weight.

He said dapagliflozin treated patients by taking away the extra glucose and its calories.

As the process is separate from the effects of insulin, the daily tablet can be taken with other widely-used diabetes medication to help patients both reduce their blood glucose levels and lose weight at the same time.

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