Safety of Sodium-Glucose Co-Transporter 2 Inhibitors

Janet B McGill, Savitha Subramanian
American Journal of Cardiology 2019 December 15, 124 Suppl 1: S45-S52
Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors have a well-defined safety profile based on data obtained from numerous clinical trials, including cardiovascular outcomes trials (CVOTs) and postmarketing pharmacovigilance reporting. Adverse events including risk of genital mycotic infection and volume depletion-related events are consistent with the mechanism of action of this drug class. However, several emergent (albeit infrequent) serious safety issues have also been reported. In their respective CVOTs, the proportion of patients with reported diabetic ketoacidosis was similar in empagliflozin or canagliflozin compared with their placebo groups, but it was higher for dapagliflozin. Canagliflozin may be associated with an increased risk of bone fracture and lower limb amputation; however, data are inconclusive. There is no evidence linking SGLT2 inhibitors with an increased risk of cancer, but these agents, particularly dapagliflozin, should be used with caution in patients with hematuria or a history of bladder cancer. Postmarketing reports of acute kidney injury have occurred in patients receiving SGLT2 inhibitors, and cases identified in recent CVOTs occurred with similar frequency in SGLT2 inhibitor and placebo groups. Common adverse events associated with SGLT2 inhibitors (such as genital infections or volume depletion) are generally mild and manageable by patients or by primary care physicians, and the risk of rare events (such as ketoacidosis) can be minimized by appropriate patient selection and early recognition of symptoms. When selecting treatment, it is important that clinicians weigh the known risks of SGLT2 inhibitors against their proven benefits, including the reduction of adverse cardiovascular and renal outcomes.

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