The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved empagliflozin (Jardiance, Boehringer Ingelheim) and empagliflozin combined with metformin (Synjardy, BI) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children aged 10 years and older.
This approval represents only the second oral treatment option for children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes after metformin; the latter appears to be less effective for pediatric patients than for adults.
Injectable glucagonlike peptide–1 (GLP-1) agonists are also available for youth with type 2 diabetes. These include daily liraglutide (Victoza) and once-weekly extended-release exenatide (Bydureon/Bydureon BCise).
Jardiance has been approved for adults with type 2 diabetes since 2014, and Synjardy has been approved since 2015.
“Compared to adults, children with type 2 diabetes have limited treatment options, even though the disease and symptom onset generally progress more rapidly in children,” said Michelle Carey, MD, MPH.
“Today’s approvals provide much-needed additional treatment options for children with type 2 diabetes,” added Carey, associate director for therapeutic review for the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Type 2 Diabetes Rising Exponentially in Kids, Mainly Non-Whites
Type 2 diabetes is rising exponentially in children and adolescents in the US.
Data from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study show that the incidence of type 2 diabetes among youth rose by about 5% per year between 2002 and 2015, and it continues to rise.
A more recent study found that a doubling of cases occurred during the pandemic, with youth often presenting with more severe disease. The majority of cases are among non-White racial groups.
Safety and efficacy data for empagliflozin for children came from the Diabetes Study of Linagliptin and Empagliflozin in Children and Adolescents (DINAMO) trial. That trial included 157 patients aged 10 to 17 years with A1c of 7% or above. Patients were randomly assigned to receive empagliflozin 10 mg or 25 mg daily, linagliptin (a DPP-4 inhibitor) 5 mg, or placebo for 26 weeks. Over 90% were also taking metformin, 40% in combination with insulin. All patients were also given diet and exercise advice.
At week 26, the children treated with empagliflozin showed an average 0.2 percentage point decrease in A1c, compared with a 0.7-point increase among those taking placebo. Use of empagliflozin was also associated with lower fasting plasma glucose levels compared to placebo.
Side effects were similar to those seen in adults except for a higher risk of hypoglycemia, regardless of other glucose-lowering therapies that were being taken.
Reduction in A1c for participants treated with linagliptin was not statistically significant in comparison with placebo. There was a numerical reduction of 0.34% (P = .2935).
“Across the lifespan, we know that people living with type 2 diabetes have a high risk for many diabetes complications, so it’s important to recognize and treat diabetes early in its course,” said Lori Laffel, MD, lead investigator of the DINAMO study, in a press release from BI.
“These findings are particularly important given the need for more therapeutic options, especially oral agents, to manage type 2 diabetes in young people as, to date, metformin [has been] the only globally available oral treatment for youth,” added Laffel, chief of the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Young Adult Section at the Joslin Diabetes Center and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington DC area. She is a regular contributor to Medscape, with other work appearing in the Washington Post, NPR’s Shots blog, and Diabetes Forecast magazine. She is on Twitter @MiriamETucker.
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