Qtern is a combination diabetes medicine that contains the active ingredients dapagliflozin and saxagliptin. Both these ingredients are also diabetes medications. When taken together as Qtern, dapagliflozin and saxagliptin can lower blood sugar through multiple mechanisms of action.

Dapagliflozin is a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor that is used alone or with other diabetes drugs to manage blood sugar levels. The kidneys typically filter glucose out of the blood so it can be reabsorbed by the body. When blood sugar is too high, the kidneys may not be able to remove all the glucose. This leads to high glucose levels in urine, which is a classic sign of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Dapagliflozin reduces the amount of glucose absorbed by the kidneys. While this increases urine glucose levels, it also reduces the amount of glucose in the blood. Dapagliflozin is also sold under the brand name Farxiga.

Saxagliptin is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor that’s also used either as a monotherapy or in combination with other diabetes treatments to lower blood sugar. Saxagliptin slows the breakdown of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This increases the release of insulin, which triggers cells to remove glucose from the blood; and decreases the release of glucagon, which triggers your liver and other cells to convert stored glucose into an immediately usable form and send this glucose into the blood. Savagliptin is also available as the brand-name drug Onglyza.

Precautions and Warnings about Qtern

Qtern treats type 2 diabetes, not type 1 diabetes. Do not take Qtern if you have type 1 diabetes.

Your blood sugar may be hard to control during stressful times while you’re taking Qtern. This includes excessive physical exertion or exercise; being ill; fever; recovering from illness, injury, or surgery; dehydration; or the lack of food. Low blood sugar is rare on Qtern but can be serious. Consider carrying glucose tablets or gels to treat low blood sugar.

It’s unclear if Qtern passes to a fetus during pregnancy or a baby during breastfeeding. Only take Qtern during pregnancy or breastfeeding if the potential benefits clearly outweigh the risks. Parents should discuss the safest way to manage their blood sugar during pregnancy and nursing with their doctors, including their child’s pediatrician.

Qtern may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Don’t operate heavy machinery or drive until you’re used to Qtern’s effects.

Do not use Qtern if you are allergic to dapagliflozin, saxagliptin, or any of the medicine’s inactive ingredients. Tell your doctor about your allergies and any problematic responses you’ve had to medicines in the past.

You should also disclose your full medical history to your care team. Qtern can cause complications with the following conditions, so make sure to discuss them with your doctor:

  • Kidney disease, including any issues treated by dialysis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • High cholesterol
  • Genital yeast infections (vaginal or in the penis)
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol use

Side Effects of Qtern

Mild side effects include dizziness, lightheadedness, and frequent urination. These side effects may fade as you adjust to your dose. Tell your doctor if the side effects get worse or don’t go away.

Contact your medical team if you experience any of these more serious side effects:

  • Pink or bloody urine
  • Burning, painful, or unusually frequent or urgent urination
  • Changes in the amount of urine
  • Joint pain
  • Unusual skin blisters or sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Sudden or unusual weight gain
  • Non-stop nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach pain that spread to the back
  • Trouble breathing
  • Infections in the vagina, penis, perineum, or anal region

Strengths and Dosages of Qtern

The typical dose of Qtern is dapagliflozin 10 mg/saxagliptin 5 mg. This is taken orally once a day in the morning. Qtern includes dapagliflozin and saxagliptin at their standard highest dosages.

DrugAmount of DapagliflozinAmount of Saxagliptin
Qtern10mg5mg
Farxiga5mg or 10mgn/a
Onglyzan/a2.5mg or 5 mg

Qtern FAQs

How does Qtern work?

Qtern combines the diabetes medications dapagliflozin and saxagliptin to reduce blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. Dapagliflozin prevents the kidneys from re-absorbing glucose, instead allowing the glucose to exit the body in urine. Saxagliptin prevents the breakdown of GLP-1 which triggers the body to release more insulin and less glucose. Together, these effects reduce the overall level of sugar in the blood.

What is Qtern for?

Qtern is a type 2 diabetes medicine that helps lower blood sugar. It’s not appropriate for patients with type 1 diabetes.

How to take Qtern?

Follow the instructions on your prescription for how to take Qtern. Most patients take Qtern once a day, with or without food. Try to take the medicine at the same time every day. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, simply skip the one you missed. Taking a double dose of Qtern can cause dangerous side effects.

When does Qtern start working?

Qtern may start to impact your blood sugar as soon as two hours after your first dose. Most patients see full results after their first week on Qtern.

What is the main Qtern side effect?

Qtern’s main side effect is more frequent urination. Qtern changes how your kidneys function, which impacts the urinary system. Dizziness and lightheadedness are other common Qtern side effects.

Who makes Qtern?

Qtern is made by AstraZeneca.

Is there a generic for Qtern?

No, there is not a generic for Qtern. This medicine is only available as a name-brand drug.

Are There Qtern Alternatives?

Yes, Glyxambi and Steglujan are two other diabetes medicines that combine SGLT2 and DPP-4 inhibitors.

How Much Does Qtern Cost in America?

A 30-tablet prescription of dapagliflozin 10 mg/saxagliptin 5 mg Qtern costs around $650. This is the retail price and doesn’t include any prescription benefits, coupons, or other discounts that may lower the price.

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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