What is Onglyza (Saxagliptin) used for?

Onglyza is a brand name version of the generic medication saxagliptin. It is a type of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor, or DPP-4 for short. Along with a healthy diet and exercise routine, saxagliptin can be taken on its own or as part of a combination pill to regulate blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. It is typically prescribed when other medication, such as metformin or a TZD drugs, is unsuitable or has failed to adequately lower blood sugar levels.

Incretin is a gastrointestinal hormone that causes the pancreas to release insulin and prevents your liver from making glucose after you eat. Incretin is removed from the body by an enzyme called dipeptidyl peptidase-4. People with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough of this enzyme, so by slowing or inhibiting DPP-4, incretin remains in the body for longer. This helps in releasing insulin and lowering your blood sugar.

How does Onglyza work?

This drug helps to decrease the amount of glucose produced by the body while improving insulin levels after meals. Onglyza exerts its pharmacological actions when there is a high level of blood glucose (e.g. after a meal). At the same time, the drug helps lower glucose level in the blood between meals. Be aware that Onglyza cannot work when the blood glucose level is low. Therefore, it is not likely to cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

On a cellular level, saxagliptin helps to block DPP-4, an enzyme involved in the decomposition of a specific insulin-producing gut hormone. Subsequently, it decreases postprandial glucose (PPG) and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) in a glucose-dependent manner. As a result, A1C and blood glucose levels are significantly reduced.

How long does Saxagliptin take to work?

This drug is able to prolong the actions of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which are both naturally-secreted incretins. These enzymes are able to promote the release of insulin (and glucose uptake by the peripheral tissues, fat, and muscles) through signaling to the pancreatic beta cells. The inhibitory effects of saxagliptin on DPP-4 enzymes can typically last for up to 24 hours. In general, this medication works quickly, with full effects seen in around one week. The enzyme-blocking effects will build up over time. By the time patients take the fifth dose, most enzymes will have been blocked.

While Onglyza is able to control the condition, it does not cure it. Therefore, it is important to use the drug on a regular basis. The drug should be taken exactly as directed. As with other drugs, it should not be stopped unless directed otherwise. To ensure optimal glycemic control, patients should use this drug every day and refill their prescription before it runs out.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.