Onglyza is a type 2 diabetes medication used in combination with diet and exercise to control high blood sugar.

In type 2 diabetes mellitus, either the body doesn’t make enough insulin or it does not respond effectively to insulin as it should, a condition referred to as insulin resistance. This condition makes it hard for the body to regulate blood sugar, leading to increased blood sugar levels, especially after meals. In both cases, increasing the amount of insulin produced in the body can help regulate blood sugar. Onglyza is a diabetes medication that stimulates the release of insulin in the body and improves glycemic control.

The medication contains the active substance Saxagliptin which is responsible for increasing insulin levels in the body when needed to control blood sugar levels, mostly after eating.

How Does Onglyza Work?

Onglyza contains Saxagliptin, which is a DPP-4 inhibitor. This active ingredient blocks the action of the DPP-4 enzyme whose role is to destroy incretin hormones.

When the function of the DPP-4 enzyme is blocked, the intestines release more incretins such as GLP-1 and GIP which stimulate insulin secretion and inhibit glucagon release.

Increased levels of insulin induce the movement of glucose from the bloodstream to cells which is converted into energy, while excess glucose is moved to the liver, adipose tissues, and muscles for storage. Eventually, this leads to a drop in blood sugar levels and improved glycemic control.

Precautions and Warnings With Onglyza

Onglyza offers a significant therapeutic advantage to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. However, understanding and adhering to the precautions and warnings of Onglyza is advised to ensure its safe and effective use.

  • Kidney conditions: Taking Onglyza may cause acute kidney injury or acute renal failure which can be life-threatening and may require dialysis.
  • Heart Failure: The medication might cause or exacerbate heart failure in patients suffering from heart diseases. Seek medical help if you experience any signs and symptoms of heart failure such as fatigue and shortness of breath while taking the medication.
  • Pancreatitis: Acute and chronic pancreatitis can occur when taking Onglyza. In case you notice signs like stomach pain and nausea, stop the medication right away and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Do not use Onglyza if you are suffering from type 1 diabetes mellitus, because it increases the risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Hypoglycemia: Using Onglyza may lead to the development of hypoglycemia or may worsen the condition if you take it with other medications such as insulin.
  • Liver Function: Liver disease causes Onglyza to accumulate inside your body, resulting in adverse effects. Monitoring liver functions is advised before initiating Onglyza therapy.

Onglyza Side Effects

Onglyza can cause side effects in patients, which can either be mild or severe. Being aware of these side effects helps to ensure safe and effective treatment for the patients and empowers patients and healthcare providers to collaborate effectively in optimizing diabetes management while minimizing risks.

Common Side Effects

  • Sweating
  • Severe joint pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Skin rash

Severe Side Effects

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Shortness of breathing
  • Painful urination
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Heart condition
  • Pancreatitis
  • Low blood sugar

Drug Interactions With Onglyza

Onglyza can interact with other medications causing potential adverse outcomes or diminished therapeutic effects.

Drug Interaction
MetforminThe interaction between metformin and Onglyza increases the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances with side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
ThiazolidinedionesCombining Onglyza and thiazolidinediones causes fluid retention and an increased risk of developing edema and heart failure symptoms.
ValsartanThe concurrent use of valsartan (Diovan) and Onglyza raises the risk of hyperkalemia, mostly in patients suffering from impaired kidney function.
SimvastatinUsing simvastatin (such as Vytorin) while taking Onglyza can cause muscle-related side effects such as myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, specifically for patients with a history of muscle-related complications.
ClarithromycinUsing clarithromycin (Biaxin) concurrently with Onglyza may result in a higher incidence of dose-related adverse effects such as nasopharyngitis and upper respiratory tract infections.
GlipizideWhen Onglyza is combined with glipizide it lowers the blood sugar level, intensifying the risk of hypoglycemia.

Strengths and Dosages of Onglyza

The strengths and dosage of Onglyza vary based on factors like the severity of your condition, any current medications you are currently taking, and your health condition. Your dosage can be adjusted in case you are scheduled to undergo surgery, or you have experienced trauma.

Typically, doctors prescribe a lower dosage to start treatment and gradually adjust it as needed to achieve optimal efficacy and maximum therapeutic outcomes for your condition.

Age Dosage  No. of Times a Day
 Minimum Dosage Maximum Dosage  


2.5 mg5 mgOnce per day

You should swallow the tablet whole and avoid crushing, breaking, or chewing it.

For best results, Onglyza should be part of your plan to manage your condition, which includes eating a balanced diet and regular physical activity. The medication should be taken over an extended duration.

Cost of Onglyza in America

The price of Onglyza oral tablets, 2.5 mg each is $520 for a 30-tablet supply. This can vary depending on the pharmacy you purchase the medication. This stated price is for customers who are paying with cash and it does not apply to patients with medical insurance coverage.

There is a generic version of Onglyza on the market and you can inquire about it from your doctor or pharmacist.

Onglyza Alternatives

There are several alternative medications available for patients who may not respond well to Onglyza. They include:

  • Nateglinide: It stimulates insulin secretion from the pancreas. This medication is taken before meals to control glucose levels. It carries a lower risk of hypoglycemia and is beneficial if you have irregular meal patterns. Starlix is a brand name medication with the active ingredient of Nateglinide.
  • Empagliflozin: Empagliflozin (Jardiance) blocks the reabsorption of glucose in the kidney causing increased urinary glucose excretion and lowering the blood sugar level.
  • Acarbose: This medication delays the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine by inhibiting alpha-glucosidase This slows the rise of blood glucose levels and helps improve glycemic control.
  • Other Alternatives: other alternative medications include repaglinide, liraglutide, sitagliptin, and glimepiride.

Onglyza FAQs

What is Onglyza?

Onglyza is used in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. The medication has an active ingredient known as saxagliptin and it is categorized as a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor.

How does Onglyza work?

Being a DPP-4 inhibitor, Onglyza blocks the DPP-4 enzyme that destroys incretins hormones like GLP-1 and GIP.  These hormones regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release and reducing glucagon secretion. This leads to improved glycemic control hence reducing blood sugar levels.

Who makes Onglyza?

It is manufactured jointly by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb. These pharmaceutical companies are involved in its development and production.

What is the generic name for Onglyza?

The generic version of Onglyza is referred to as saxagliptin.

How long does a dosage of Onglyza last?

The effectiveness of the 2.5 and 5 mg doses of Onglyza extends to approximately 24 hours.

When should Onglyza be taken?

Onglyza should be taken once daily, at the same time every day for optimal effectiveness and consistency in timing.

Can I drink alcohol when taking Onglyza?

Do not take alcohol while on Onglyza medication because it increases the risk of low blood sugar levels and pancreatitis.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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