A new type 2 diabetes treatment shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people for whom diet and lifestyle measures or treatment with other blood sugar-lowering medicines, do not provide adequate control has recently been launched.

Canagliflozin (Invokana) has also received a preliminary positive recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), as a treatment option for adults with Type 2 diabetes.


The prevalence of diabetes is increasing throughout the UK, with an estimated 3.2 million people currently living with diabetes – 90% of whom have Type 2 diabetes. 

“Every year, we are seeing a growing number of people with Type 2 diabetes which can have the extremely serious consequences of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputations,” commented Professor Anthony Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Birmingham and Consultant Physician Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust Birmingham. “Canagliflozin, which can offer patients significant reductions in blood sugar levels whilst not increasing risks of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars), represents an important new option in the management of what is now a major UK epidemic.”

Canagliflozin is an oral, once-daily tablet, belonging to a new class of medicines called sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. It works differently to the most commonly used treatments by blocking the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys. The result is that more glucose is excreted in the urine thereby reducing levels of blood glucose — a major goal of diabetes treatment.

The efficacy of canagliflozin has been studied in trials involving over 10,000 people with Type 2 diabetes in all lines of treatment, making it one of the largest development programmes for type 2 diabetes in the world.

According to the National Diabetes Audit, more than a third (34.2%) of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales are currently failing to achieve recommended blood glucose levels.

The NHS currently spends about £10 billion a year on treating diabetes, 80 per cent of which goes into managing avoidable complications. By helping people with Type 2 diabetes improve control of blood glucose levels, their risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications can be significantly reduced, which in turn could save the NHS millions of pounds.

“The launch of canagliflozin in the UK is an exciting milestone for Janssen,” commented Dr Peter Barnes, Medical Director at Janssen UK. “With the relentless increase in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes, there is an ongoing need for additional treatment options. Not only does canagliflozin provide a new once a day oral treatment to help control blood glucose levels, it offers real value to the NHS.”