Saxagliptin | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

saxagliptin, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Onglyza
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Highlights for saxagliptin

Oral tablet
1

Saxagliptin is an oral drug that’s used to treat high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s used along with diet and exercise.

2

The recommended dosage is 2.5 mg or 5 mg taken by mouth once per day with or without food. Your doctor will give you a lower dose if your kidneys don’t work well.

3

Common side effects include upper respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection, and headache.

4

This drug can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Stop taking saxagliptin and contact your doctor right away if you have signs of pancreatitis. Symptoms include severe pain in your stomach that travels to your back that won’t go away, a swollen or tender stomach, or nausea or vomiting. This condition is serious and must be treated.

5

Your doctor should do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working before starting and during your treatment with saxagliptin. You may need a lower dose if your kidneys aren’t working well.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Pancreatitis

This drug may increase your risk of inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). This can be severe and sometimes fatal. Before you start taking this drug, tell your doctor if you’ve ever had:

  • pancreatitis
  • stones in your gallbladder (gallstones)
  • alcoholism
  • high cholesterol
  • kidney problems

Stop taking this drug and call your doctor right away if you have signs of pancreatitis. You’ll need to be treated. Symptoms include:

  • severe pain in your stomach that won’t go away. You may feel the pain going from your stomach through to your back.
  • swollen, tender stomach
  • nausea or vomiting

Risk of an allergic reaction

This drug can cause a serious allergic reaction. If you have an allergic reaction, your doctor will treat the reaction and prescribe another drug for your diabetes. Symptoms include:

  • swelling of your face, lips, or throat
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • hives
  • skin rash

Low blood sugar

When taken alone, this drug usually doesn’t cause a low blood sugar reaction (hypoglycemia). But if you take this drug with certain other diabetes drugs, such as insulin, sulfonylureas, or glitinides, it can lead to low blood sugar levels. The dose of your insulin, sulfonylurea, or glitinide may need to be lowered if you’re taking this drug. Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • shaking
  • sweating
  • rapid heart rate
  • changes in vision
  • increased hunger
  • unusual weakness or tiredness
  • headache
  • change in mood

Drug features

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral tablet. 

This drug is available as a generic drug called saxagliptin. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

This drug is not a combination product, but saxagliptin is a part of a combination product with metformin (Kombiglyze XR).

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s used along with diet and exercise.

How it works

This drug belongs to a drug class called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DDP-4) inhibitors.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a drug class called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DDP-4) inhibitors. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug lowers blood sugar by helping your body increase the level of insulin after meals.

Normally as you start to eat, hormones are released into your bloodstream. This causes insulin to be released into your bloodstream. Insulin is needed to move carbohydrates and sugar from the meal from your bloodstream into your cells.

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) is an enzyme that causes the hormones that release insulin to become inactive. This drug stops the DPP-4 enzyme from working, so that the hormones can continue to help release insulin and lower you blood sugar levels.

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saxagliptin Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with saxagliptin include:

  • upper respiratory tract infection

  • urinary tract infection

  • headache

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). Symptoms include:

    • sudden pain in your stomach that travels to your back
    • swollen and tender stomach
    • nausea or vomiting
  • allergic reactions. Symptoms include:

    • skin rash
    • itching or hives
    • swelling of your face, lips, or tongue
    • trouble breathing
  • fevers and chills

  • pain when urinating

  • low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Symptoms include:

    • feeling anxious
    • confusion
    • dizziness
    • increased hunger
    • unusual weakness or tiredness
    • sweating
    • shakiness
    • feeling cold
    • irritability
    • headache
    • blurred vision
    • fast heart rate
    • loss of consciousness
  • swelling of your ankles, feet, and hands

  • unusual stomach pain or upset stomach

  • vomiting

  • decreased levels of white blood cells that help fight infection. Symptoms include:

    • fever
    • sore throat
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

If you have a low blood sugar reaction, you need to treat it.

  • For mild hypoglycemia (55–70 mg/dL), treatment is 15–20 grams of glucose (a type of sugar). You need to eat or drink one of the following:
    • 3–4 glucose tablets
    • a tube of glucose gel
    • ½ cup of juice or regular, non-diet soda
    • 1 cup of nonfat or 1% cow’s milk
    • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup
    • 8–10 pieces of hard candy, such as lifesavers
  • Test your blood sugar 15 minutes after you treat the low sugar reaction. If your blood sugar is still low, then repeat the above treatment again.
  • Once your blood sugar is back in the normal range, eat a small snack if your next planned meal or snack is more than 1 hour later. 

If you don’t treat low blood sugar, you can have a seizure, pass out, and possibly develop brain damage. Low blood sugar can even be fatal. If you pass out because of a low sugar reaction or cannot swallow, someone will have to give you an injection of glucagon to treat the low sugar reaction. You may need to go to the emergency room.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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saxagliptin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Saxagliptin can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Medicines to treat fungal infections
  • ketoconazole
  • itraconazole

These drugs may increase the amount of saxagliptin in your body. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of saxagliptin if you must take these medicines together.

Medicines to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections
  • atazanavir
  • indinavir
  • nelfinavir
  • ritonavir
  • saquinavir

These drugs may increase the amount of saxagliptin in your body. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of saxagliptin if you must take these medicines together.

Medicines to treat bacterial infections
  • clarithromycin
  • telithromycin

These drugs may increase the amount of saxagliptin in your body. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of saxagliptin if you must take these medicines together.

Medicines to treat depression
  • nefazodone

This drug may increase the amount of saxagliptin in your body. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of saxagliptin if you must take these medicines together.

Medicines to treat diabetes (thiazolidinediones)
  • rosiglitazone
  • pioglitazone

Taking these drugs with saxagliptin may increase your risk of swelling or fluid retention in your hands, feet, or ankles (peripheral edema).

Medicines to treat diabetes (insulin, sulfonylureas, or glitinides)
  • insulin
  • sulfonylureas (such as glimepiride, glipizide)
  • meglitinides (such as repaglinide, nateglinide)

Taking these drugs together may cause a low blood sugar reaction (hypoglycemia). Your dose of the insulin, sulfonylurea, or meglitinide may need to be lowered if you are taking saxagliptin.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with pancreatitis

This drug may increase your risk of inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). People with pancreatitis should not take this drug.

People with kidney disease

If your kidneys don’t work as well as they should, you may need a lower dose of this drug so that you don’t experience side effects.

People with low white blood cells

This drug may further decrease your lymphocytes (small white blood cells that help fight infection). If you have an unusual infection or one that’s not getting better, your lymphocyte should be measured.

Pregnant women

This drug is a pregnancy category B drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if this drug passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take this drug or breastfeed.

For seniors

This drug is cleared from your body partly by your kidneys. As you age, your kidneys may not work as well as they did compared to when you were younger. This may cause more of this drug to stay in your body, increasing your risk for side effects.

Your doctor should check your kidney function before giving you this drug and select your dose based on how well your kidneys work.

For children

The safety and effectiveness of this drug haven’t been established in people younger than 18 years of age.

Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

  • swelling of your face, lips, throat, and other areas on your skin
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • raised, red areas on your skin (hives)
  • skin rash, itching, flaking, or peeling

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it before. Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

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How to Take saxagliptin (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Type 2 diabetes

Brand: Onglyza

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

2.5 mg or 5 mg taken by mouth once per day with or without food.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

As you age, your kidneys don’t work as well as they once did. Your doctor should check your kidney function and select your dose based on how well your kidneys work.

Special considerations

Kidney disease:

  • mild kidney disease (creatinine clearance (CrCl) greater than 50 mL/min): 2.5 mg or 5 mg taken one time per day.
  • moderate or severe kidney disease (CrCl less than 50 mL/min) or end-stage kidney disease: 2.5 mg taken one time per day.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t take it at all or if you skip or miss doses

Your blood sugar level will get high and your diabetes may get worse.

If you take too much

If you think that you’ve taken too much of this medication or have symptoms of low blood sugar, treat your low blood sugar as your doctor has told you to. If your symptoms (such as blurry vision, rapid heartbeat, tiredness, headache, or shaking) don’t go away, call your doctor or go to the emergency room right away. You may need a procedure (hemodialysis) to remove the drug from your body.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a dose, skip that dose. Take your next dose at its scheduled time, unless otherwise told by your doctor. You shouldn’t take an extra dose the next day.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may be able to tell if this drug is working if your blood sugar levels are lower.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
timing Take your dose at the same time each day
do not crush Don’t cut, crush, or chew this medicine
storage You must store this drug at the right temperature See Details
travel Travel See Details
self-management Self-management See Details
Clinical monitoring Clinical monitoring See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead
insurance Insurance See Details

You must store this drug at the right temperature

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C).
  • Keep the drug away from light.
  • Keep it away from high temperature.
  • Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff your pharmacy’s label clearly to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription label with you when traveling.
  • Don’t leave this medicine in the car, especially when the temperature is hot or freezing.

Self-management

You’ll need to learn how to do the following:

  • use a blood glucose monitor to test your blood sugar regularly at home
  • recognize the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar
  • treat high and low blood sugar reactions

Clinical monitoring

Before starting and while you’re taking this drug, your doctor may check your:

  • blood sugar levels
  • glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) levels. This test measures your blood sugar control over the last 2–3 months.
  • kidney function
  • if you have an infection for a long time, your doctor may check your blood level of lymphocytes (small white blood cells that help fight infection)
  • if you have symptoms of pancreatitis, your doctor will do tests to check if you have this condition
  • if you’re also taking rosiglitazone or pioglitazone and develop swelling (edema), you doctor may check how your heart is working

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for this drug.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does saxagliptin Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for saxagliptin

Kroger Pharmacy $370.98
Membership warehouse $375.07
CVS Pharmacy $378.96
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for saxagliptin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for saxagliptin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 19, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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