Study backed by AZ, BMS: Onglyza OK for hearts

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A diabetes study backed by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb shows that their DPP-IV drug Onglyza is associated with glycemic control but not an increased risk for heart attack. The DPP-IV class includes drugs such as Merck's Januvia and Boehringer Ingelheim's Tradjenta. The New England Journal of Medicine published the results Monday.

The study group was comprised of patients with either a history of cardiovascular disease or with multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and smoking. The primary goal was to assess incidence of cardiovascular death, non-fatal heart attacks and non-fatal stroke, and the secondary goal was to assess hospitalization for heart failure, coronary revascularization or unstable angina. Patients were followed for a little over two years.

The results showed a narrow difference in heart impact: 613 Ongylza patients had cardiovascular events in the first category (non-fatal heart attacks, non-fatal stroke, cardiovascular death) compared to 609 in the control group; and 1,059 Onglyza patients experienced conditions in the secondary category (hospitalization for heart failure, coronary revascularization or unstable angina), compared with 1,034 patients in the control group.

Researchers noted that the study's brief timeframe was associated with better glycemic control, and that although the short-term impact of DPP-IVs on heart health appear negligible, a longer view could be necessary because patients may need to be on the drug for a longer period for a heart-protective benefit to emerge.

They also noted that a United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study that followed patients for 10 years showed a positive relationship between sustained glycemic control and heart health. However, the UK study and the AZ/BMS studies are not comparable, they cautioned, because the UK study focused on lower-risk patients, while the AZ/BMS cohort included patients at a high risk for cardiovascular issues.

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