By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Invokana, Farxiga and Jardiance – you’ve probably heard those names a lot lately in commercials.

They’re three new drugs for Type 2 Diabetes and they work differently than previous diabetes medications.

As with any medication, there are pros and cons.

Sean Caplan is a father of two and has diabetes. His high blood sugar wasn’t coming under control with the standard treatment of metformin, a pill that helps your body make less sugar and do a better job of processing sugar.

He was also having side effects.

“Didn’t really feel good most of the time when I was on metformin,” Caplan said. “The problem was, it did a number on my stomach.”

His doctor added a new medicine – Invokana.

“It’s easy to take. It’s just one pill a day. And it’s turned out well,” Caplan said.

The customary pills for type 2 diabetes include drugs that help your body process sugar and make more insulin.

Three medicines in a new class have been recently approved by the FDA. They work by acting on the kidney — you simply get rid of excess sugar in the urine.

“It’s a completely different path of action,” Dr. Poornima Rao, of Allegheny Health Network Endocrinology said.

These new medicines can be used alone, but typically they are add-ons.

To be a good candidate, metformin alone isn’t doing the job. You have some weight to lose, you have normal kidney function, and you can keep hydrated. Dehydration and increased gynecologic and urinary infections are risks.

“Maybe at night I’m up one or two extra times to use the bathroom,” Caplan said.

Dr. Rao considers it for half of her patients.

“With the new medications, they can be expensive. The makers do have certain discounts and things like that we try to use as much as possible,” Dr. Rao said.

“The cash price of these drugs is high. The copays are somewhat high, but they’re affordable,” Caplan said.

Caplan said getting his long-term blood sugar test from 14.1 down to 7.7 with an ultimate goal of 6.5 is worth it.

“I have two little girls. I’m not tired all the time, spend more time with them. And just feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m still not where they want to be, but I’m real close to it.”

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