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Sitagliptin

Sitagliptin is a type of medication you might need to take if you have type 2 diabetes.  

What is sitagliptin?  

Sitagliptin belongs to the drug class DPP-4 inhibitors. The brand name for sitagliptin is Januvia. 

You can take this drug on its own if metformin isn’t suitable for you, and it can be used with other diabetes medications. 

There is another medication that has both sitagliptin and metformin in one tablet, which has the brand name Janumet.  

How does sitagliptin work? 

Sitagliptin works by blocking the action of the enzyme DPP-4, which destroys incretins – hormones - that the body makes. 

Incretins are naturally produced by the stomach when we eat. They help the body produce more insulin when it’s needed and lower blood sugar levels

How do you take sitagliptin? 

This is a tablet that you take once a day. You should take it with a drink of water and swallow it whole.   

You can take it at any time of the day, but it is recommended to take it at the same time each day. You can take it with or without food.  

If you take Janumet, which has sitagliptin and metformin in one tablet, then you should take this with food, to lower the risk of having an upset tummy.  

Always take sitagliptin exactly as your healthcare professional has told you. The Patient Information Leaflet inside the box will tell you how to take it but always check with your healthcare professional if you’re not sure.     

Who can take sitagliptin? 

Adults over the age of 18 years with type 2 diabetes can take sitagliptin. 

Who can’t take sitagliptin? 

Some medications might not be suitable for some people, which might be because of medical conditions or other reasons:   

  • If you have kidney disease your doses of sitagliptin will need to be reduced depending on the stage of your kidney disease; 
  • If you have severe liver disease you might not be able to take sitagliptin; 
  • You may need to temporarily stop taking sitagliptin if you’re going to have an operation; 
  • You should not take sitagliptin if you are pregnant of breastfeeding. If you’re planning a pregnancy speak with a healthcare professional if you are using this medication; 

When you start a new medication always check with your healthcare team that it’s suitable for you to take.   

Your prescription 

Your healthcare team should explain your prescription to you but it's important to make sure you ask if you don't feel you know enough.   

And make sure you talk to your GP or your diabetes team if you struggle to take your medication. They might be able to help by giving you a different dose. 

In England, if you need to take any medication to manage your diabetes, your prescriptions will be free. Ask your healthcare team about a prescription exemption certificate if you don't have one, to make sure you don't get charged for your medication. Prescriptions are already free for everybody in the rest of the UK, so you shouldn't pay for your medication. 

Side effects of sitagliptin 

Like all medications, sitagliptin can cause side effects. But when side effects are listed as common in the Patient Information Leaflet, it doesn’t mean that everyone who takes the medication will get them.   

The information about side effects is based on the likelihood of people having them. For example, if a side effect is very common then it can affect more than one in ten people, and if a side effect is very rare then it affects fewer than one in 10,000 people.   

Because medicines can affect people differently, your healthcare team will speak to you about what’s best for you and discuss any side effects.  

Some of the most common side effects from taking sitagliptin are: 

  • nausea 
  • vomiting 
  • headache. 

Risk of low blood sugar 

If you take sitagliptin with a sulphonylurea or insulin then it can cause low blood sugar, also called hypoglycaemia or a hypo. This is where is where the level of sugar or glucose in your blood drops too low, below 4mmol/l.  

Your healthcare team may advise reducing the dose of your sulphonylurea or insulin when you start taking sitagliptin to reduce the risk of hypos.   

These are not all the side effects. You will find a full list of known side effects in the Patient Information Leaflet. This comes in the medication box.   

It’s also important that you take individual advice from your healthcare team before starting sitagliptin treatment and report any side effects to your healthcare professional, if you experience any.  

You can also report these side effects to the Yellow Card Scheme, which is the government system used for recording side effects with medicines in the UK.   

More information and support 

Still have more questions? Or is there anything you're not sure about sitagliptin after reading this page? Contact our helpline on 0345 123 2399. 

You can visit the NHS website for more information on sitagliptin. 

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