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SGLT2 inhibitors are a class of drugs used by diabetics to help eliminate excess sugar through urination. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning that people who take these drugs may be at risk for a very serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
These medications include:
SGLT2 (short for sodium-glucose cotransporter-2) is a protein that helps the body store sugar. Thousands and thousands of years ago, the SGLT2 protein was a necessity for humans who were active nearly all day and did not have a steady source of food. However, most of us today – thankfully – do not have to face that issue. But that does not keep SGLT2 from doing its job. As a result, many people develop diabetes.
SGLT2 is a major problem for diabetics because they already have too much sugar in their blood. That is why Invokana and other drugs of its class were designed – to inhibit the ability of SGLT2 to function, and to help diabetics rid themselves of excess sugar. These medications can also help diabetics lose weight.
Although SGLT2 inhibitors have proven to be effective, they can also lead to potentially dangerous side effects. In May 2015, the FDA issued a Safety Communication advising consumers and healthcare providers of a potential link between the drugs and the development of diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a very serious condition resulting from too much acid in the blood.
Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include the following:
Diabetic ketoacidosis develops when the body breaks down fat rather than glucose to gain energy, releasing extremely acidic waste products known as ketones. The FDA announced that it had received 20 reports of people – all of whom had taken SGLT2 inhibitors for an average of two weeks – who had to be hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis between March 2013 and June 2014.