The first of its kind in type 1 diabetes treatments, dapagliflozin is a one-a-day pill which, when used alongside standard insulin therapy, could significantly improve long-term health outcomes for many people with the condition. It’s estimated that up to a third of people with type 1 in England and Wales could be eligible for the drug.
The approval comes from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), who will publish more detailed guidance following standard appeal procedures in August.
Currently, the only treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin, which has to be injected or infused through a pump. However, it can be very tricky to balance insulin with a number of other factors, such as food, exercise and illness, and sometimes insulin therapy alone does not manage blood glucose effectively.
Dapagliflozin helps to reduce blood glucose levels by stopping the kidneys absorbing glucose into the body. Instead, the glucose is passed out in urine. Previous clinical trials showed that, when used alongside insulin, the drug helped people lower their HbA1c levels without increasing the incidence of hypos. Keeping HbA1c levels as close to the recommended target of 6.5% as possible is important in preventing long-term complications.
Some side effects of the drug include weight loss and increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The drug will therefore only be offered as an option to those who find managing blood glucose levels challenging, but who also have a BMI over 27 and – amongst other criteria – are aware of how to spot and treat DKA.
In 2018, JDRF advised NICE that dapagliflozin can offer substantial benefits for people with type 1 diabetes.
Karen Addington, Chief Executive for JDRF in the UK, said: “Progress in type 1 diabetes research means we are entering an era in which we see significant changes in the landscape of treatment options for the condition. JDRF will continue its work to support people to gain access to the treatments they need.”