Taking the type 2 diabetes drug Farxiga (dapagliflozin) may add years of life to people with a common form of heart failure, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
While Farxiga was originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, the drug has been studied — and ultimately approved — as a treatment for other health conditions, as well. In May 2020, the drug received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, regardless of whether a person has diabetes. Then in April 2021, Farxiga was approved as a treatment for chronic kidney disease, following clinical trials that were halted early because they showed an “overwhelming” benefit for this condition.
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Benefits of Farxiga in heart failure
Now, researchers have shown that based on data from a clinical trial of people with heart failure, it’s plausible that taking Farxiga could add years of life to people with this condition — an outcome that was extrapolated from data rather than definitively shown, because the trial hasn’t gone on long enough to show that the drug adds years of life. In this “exploratory analysis,” researchers looked at data from a trial of 4,744 people with heart failure who were randomly assigned to take either Farxiga or a placebo (inactive pill). Participants were enrolled between February 2017 and August 2018, and were followed until June 2019, with an average follow-up period of 17.6 months.
In people who received Farxiga as part of the study, 10 milligrams of the drug were taken once daily as an addition to standard treatment for heart failure. The main outcome researchers were looking for was the amount of time until participants needed hospitalization or an urgent-care visit visit requiring intravenous (IV) treatments for their heart failure, or until they died from cardiovascular causes. Based on what other studies have shown about the relationship between hospitalization for heart failure and death from cardiovascular causes or from any cause, the researchers then used the data on Farxiga to estimate how much longer people would live if they took the drug for the rest of their life.
The researchers found that a 65-year-old with heart failure would be expected to live an additional 6.2 years without a cardiovascular event if they took a placebo, and an additional 8.3 years if they took Farxiga. When they looked at death from any cause, the average survival time for a 65-year-old taking a placebo was estimated to be 9.1 years, while for Farxiga it was 10.8 years — representing an additional 1.7 years of life. Similar results were seen when the researchers estimated these results for people of different ages.
“These findings indicate that [Farxiga] provides clinically meaningful gains in extrapolated event-free and overall survival,” the researchers wrote. “These findings may be helpful in communicating the benefits of this treatment” to people with heart failure.
Want to learn more about protecting your heart? Read “Be Heart Smart: Know Your Numbers,” “Does Diabetes Hurt Your Heart?” “Fight Off Heart Disease With These Five Heart-Healthy Foods” and “Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.”