NPS MedicineWise review of new combo medicine for diabetes and cholesterol

5 APRIL 2013

A new combination medicine is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for people with both diabetes and high cholesterol. However, NPS MedicineWise cautions that while combination medicines have some advantages, they can also cause problems if people aren’t aware of what they are taking.

The medicine, which is known by the brand name Juvicor, is a new combination of two existing medicines: sitagliptin (for glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes) and simvastatin (for cholesterol lowering).

The latest edition of the NPS MedicineWise publication Medicine Update reviews the medicine and provides evidence-based information about its risks and benefits.

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that most people with type 2 diabetes are initially prescribed metformin or a sulfonylureaIf one of these diabetes medicines is not effective enough on its own, adding sitagliptin may be an option for people who can’t take the more common combination of metformin and a sulfonylurea together, for example because of side effects.

“Juvicor may be an option for people for whom sitagliptin is the best choice for glucose-lowering, and who also need to take a cholesterol-lowering medicine,” says Dr Binns.

“But it’s important to remember that all medicines have potential benefits and risks, and anyone considering switching to the Juvicor combination medicine should understand whether the active ingredients are right for them, and indeed also whether a combination tablet is suitable in the first place. If you are prescribed a combination medicine, it’s wise to be aware of some of the possible issues and take some precautions .”

While combination medicines like Juvicor have some advantages, they can cause problems. If side effects or interactions occur with combination medicines it can be difficult to work out which active ingredient has caused it. Getting used to the medicines individually before taking a combination can help manage this risk.

Juvicor interacts with a number of other medicines including prescription medicines such as the antibiotic clarithromycin, and complementary medicines such as St. John’s wort. Large amounts of alcohol and grapefruit can also interact with Juvicor.
“It’s important for anyone taking Juvicor to talk to a doctor or pharmacist about the risks and benefits, as well as before taking any other prescription, or non-prescription, medicines or supplements,” says Dr Binns.

To read the full Medicine Update review on sitagliptin with simvastatin (Juvicor),visit www.nps.org.au/medicineupdate

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).

 

ENDS

Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

Media enquiries: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667, 0419 618 365 or schilds@nps.org.au