Diabetes mellitus is a major public health problem, affecting about 10% of the population. Pharmacotherapy aims to protect against microvascular complications, including blindness, end-stage kidney disease, and amputations. Landmark clinical trials have demonstrated that intensive glycemic control slows progression of microvascular complications (retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy). Long-term follow-up has demonstrated that intensive glycemic control also decreases risk of macrovascular disease, albeit rigorous evidence of macrovascular benefit did not emerge for over a decade. The US FDA’s recent requirement for dedicated cardiovascular outcome trials ushered in a golden age for understanding the clinical profiles of new type 2 diabetes drugs. Some clinical trials with sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) receptor agonists reported data demonstrating cardiovascular benefit (decreased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events and hospitalization for heart failure) and slower progression of diabetic kidney disease. This Review discusses current guidelines for use of the 12 classes of drugs approved to promote glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. The Review also anticipates future developments with potential to improve the standard of care: availability of generic dipeptidylpeptidase-4 (DPP4) inhibitors and SGLT2 inhibitors; precision medicine to identify the best drugs for individual patients; and new therapies to protect against chronic complications of diabetes.
Simeon I. Taylor, Zhinous Shahidzadeh Yazdi, Amber L. Beitelshees