Onglyza is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved to help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. The drug is used in combination with diet and exercise.

Onglyza has certain limitations of use. For details, see the “Onglyza for type 2 diabetes” section below.

Drug details

Onglyza belongs to a class of drugs called dipeptidyl peptidase-IV inhibitors.

Onglyza comes as an oral tablet. The drug is available in two strengths: 2.5 milligrams (mg) and 5 mg.

Effectiveness

For information about the effectiveness of Onglyza, see the “Onglyza for type 2 diabetes” section below.

Onglyza is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form.

A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs.

Onglyza contains the active ingredient saxagliptin.

The Onglyza dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

The following information describes Onglyza dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your individual needs.

* Your doctor will determine your target blood sugar level and other treatments for type 2 diabetes (the condition Onglyza is used to treat).

Drug forms and strengths

Onglyza comes as an oral tablet that you swallow. It’s available in two strengths: 2.5 milligrams (mg) and 5 mg.

Dosage for type 2 diabetes

The recommended Onglyza dosage is 2.5 mg or 5 mg once per day.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Onglyza, try and take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Then take your next dose at the time you typically take it. You should not take more than one dose of Onglyza at once.

If you’re unsure whether to take or skip a dose of Onglyza, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Onglyza is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Onglyza is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.

Other drugs are available that can help you manage your blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Onglyza, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Alternatives for type 2 diabetes

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat type 2 diabetes include:

Onglyza can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Onglyza. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Onglyza, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may be concerning or bothersome.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Onglyza, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Below is a partial list of mild side effects of Onglyza. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Onglyza’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Onglyza can include:

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* For more information about allergic reaction and Onglyza, see “Allergic reaction” below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Onglyza aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Symptoms can include:
    • pain or tenderness in your abdomen
    • swelling of your abdomen
    • fever
    • upset stomach
    • nausea or vomiting
  • Heart failure (a condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as usual). Symptoms can include:
    • cough
    • tiredness
    • shortness of breath
    • swelling in your abdomen, ankles, feet, or legs
    • unintentional weight gain
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially when Onglyza is used with insulin or a sulfonylurea such as glipizide (Glucotrol XL).* Symptoms can include:
    • dizziness
    • sweating
    • headache
  • Severe joint pain. Symptoms can include:
    • joint pain that interferes with daily tasks
    • having trouble moving or bending your joints
  • Severe allergic reaction.†

* To learn more, see the “Onglyza use with other treatments” section below.
† For details about allergic reaction and Onglyza, see “Allergic reaction” below.

ALLERGIC REACTION

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Onglyza. This side effect was rarely reported in clinical trials of this drug.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Onglyza, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Onglyza.

What drug class does Onglyza belong to?

Onglyza belongs to a class of drugs called dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-4) inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. DPP-4 inhibitors are oral drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. Onglyza contains the active ingredient saxagliptin.

Examples of other DPP-4 inhibitors include:

Your doctor can help answer any additional questions you have about Onglyza’s drug class.

Can Onglyza be used for weight loss?

Onglyza isn’t approved for use as a weight-loss drug. However, doctors may prescribe the drug off-label for this purpose. Off-label drug use is when a drug the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

If you’re interested in Onglyza’s off-label use for weight loss, talk with your doctor. They can also advise you on other ways to manage your weight. In addition, to learn about safe and effective weight loss strategies, visit our weight management hub.

Is weight gain a side effect of Onglyza?

No, you’re not likely to experience weight gain as a side effect of Onglyza. This is because weight gain wasn’t reported as a side effect in Onglyza’s clinical studies. (For details, see the “Onglyza side effects” section above.)

However, weight gain is a potential side effect of some other medications that Onglyza may be prescribed with.* These include:

If you have questions about weight gain and Onglyza treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* To learn more, see the “Onglyza use with other treatments” section below.

As with all medications, the cost of Onglyza can vary. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Keep in mind that you may be able to get a 90-day supply of Onglyza. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

Before approving coverage for Onglyza, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Onglyza, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Onglyza, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

A savings card is available for Onglyza. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 855-907-3197 or visit the program website.

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.

Mail-order pharmacies

Onglyza may be available through a mail-order pharmacy. Using this service may help lower the drug’s cost and allow you to get your medication without leaving home.

If recommended by your doctor, you may be able to receive a 90-day supply of Onglyza, so there’s less concern about running out of the medication. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order medications.

If you don’t have insurance, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about online pharmacy options.

Generic version

Onglyza is not available in a generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Onglyza is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. The drug is used in combination with diet and exercise.

Onglyza has two limitations of use. The drug should not be used to treat type 1 diabetes or a complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis. The drug would not be effective in treating either condition.

Type 2 diabetes explained

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to build up.

A high blood sugar level over time can cause problems throughout your body. The problems can affect your heart, eyes, and kidneys, among other organs and body tissues. Consistently high blood sugar levels can also lead to serious conditions, including heart failure and kidney disease.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • increased thirst
  • increased appetite
  • urinating more frequently than usual
  • low energy
  • losing weight without trying

To learn more about diabetes, visit our diabetes hub.

Effectiveness for type 2 diabetes

Onglyza has been found to be effective for lowering blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. For information on how the drug performed in clinical trials, see Onglyza’s prescribing information.

Onglyza is also recommended as a treatment option for certain adults with type 2 diabetes in guidelines from the American Diabetes Association.

Onglyza and children

Onglyza is approved for use only in adults. It’s not approved to treat type 2 diabetes in children.

If you’re interested in learning about type 2 diabetes treatments approved for use in children, talk with your child’s doctor. You can also read this article.

Onglyza is meant to be used along with diet and exercise to manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. And in some cases, the drug may be prescribed with other type 2 diabetes drugs.

Onglyza and diet and exercise

Your doctor may suggest following a healthy diet and exercising regularly to help manage your blood sugar levels. A healthy diet should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Regular exercise includes walking, running, or another activity several times a week. Your doctor can help you create a diet and exercise plan that’s right for you.

Onglyza and other medications

Your doctor may prescribe Onglyza by itself or in combination with other type 2 diabetes drugs. It’s common for people with type 2 diabetes to take more than one medication to manage their blood sugar levels. This is because, for some people, taking a medication that works differently than Onglyza can be more effective than Onglyza alone.

Examples of medications that may be used along with Onglyza for type 2 diabetes are:

If you have questions about taking Onglyza in combination with other treatments, talk with your doctor.

Onglyza is prescribed to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Blood sugar (also called glucose) tends to rise after a meal. To help prevent the sugar level from becoming too high, your body usually releases a hormone called insulin after you eat.

Insulin moves sugar out of your blood and into your cells. With more sugar in your cells and less in your blood, your blood sugar returns to its usual level.

But with type 2 diabetes, cells in your body stop responding to insulin as well as they normally do. This means that sugar can’t move into cells. As a result, it builds up in your blood. Over time, your body’s cells may stop responding to insulin at all. Your body may also stop making enough insulin as diabetes worsens.

Onglyza works to lower blood sugar levels by increasing how much insulin your body releases when needed, such as after a meal. Over time, this increased level of insulin helps lower your blood sugar level.

How long does it take for Onglyza to work?

Onglyza begins working as soon as you take a dose. However, it may be several weeks before you notice a change in your blood sugar level. This is because the drug works in combination with diet and exercise. (For details, see the “Onglyza use with other treatments” section just above.) And it takes time for your body to adjust to these changes and increase the amount of insulin released.

This drug comes with several precautions. These are considered drug-condition interactions.

Before taking Onglyza, talk with your doctor about your health history. Onglyza may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include the ones mentioned below.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Onglyza, see the “Onglyza side effects” section above.

Heart failure. In clinical trials, Onglyza treatment increased the risk of hospitalization due to heart failure. The risk affected people with no known history of heart failure.

If you have heart failure, talk with your doctor. Taking Onglyza could worsen your condition, so they can help determine whether the drug is safe for you. If your doctor does prescribe Onglyza, they’ll likely monitor you closely during treatment to see whether your heart failure worsens. If needed, they can adjust your treatment plan.

Pancreatitis. Since Onglyza was approved for use, there have been rare reports of pancreatitis in people taking the drug. It isn’t known whether you have an increased risk of this side effect if you’ve had pancreatitis in the past.

If you have or have had pancreatitis or risk factors for developing it, talk with your doctor. They can help determine Onglyza is safe for you. Pancreatitis risk factors include alcohol use disorder, gallstones, and high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat).

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Onglyza or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Onglyza. Ask your doctor what other medications may be better options for you.

Pregnancy. It’s not known whether it’s safe to take Onglyza during pregnancy. For more information, see the “Onglyza and pregnancy” section below.

Breastfeeding. It’s not known whether it’s safe to breastfeed during Onglyza treatment. For more information, see the “Onglyza and breastfeeding” section below.

You should take Onglyza according to the instructions your doctor gives you.

Onglyza comes as an oral tablet that you swallow.

When to take

You’ll take the medication once per day. There’s no one best time of day to take Onglyza. However, taking the medication around the same time of day helps keep a steady level of the drug in your body. This helps Onglyza work effectively.

If you take your doses at different times, the drug level may vary too much. And this may limit how well Onglyza works.

It’s especially important to not miss doses of Onglyza. This is because the drug has a short half-life. A drug’s half-life is about how long it takes your body to get rid of half a dose after you take it. When a drug has a short half-life, it means the drug doesn’t stay in your system very long.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

If you have questions about when or how to take your medication, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Accessible labels and containers

Some pharmacies offer labels that have large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to direct you to one that does.

If you have trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist if they can put Onglyza in an easy-open container. They also may be able to recommend tools that can make it simpler to open lids.

Taking Onglyza with food

You may take Onglyza with or without food.

Can Onglyza be crushed, split, or chewed?

No, you should not crush, split, or chew Onglyza tablets. Onglyza tablets must be swallowed whole.

If you have trouble swallowing Onglyza tablets whole, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also check out these tips.

There’s no known interaction between Onglyza and alcohol.

However, consuming alcohol can make it more difficult for you to manage type 2 diabetes. This is because alcohol can raise or lower your blood sugar level. (Onglyza is prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.)

At first, drinking alcohol can cause your blood sugar level to rise. But as your body breaks down the alcohol, your blood sugar level goes down.

Alcohol can increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which is also a potential side effect of Onglyza. (To learn more, see the “Onglyza side effects” section above.)

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor. They can tell you how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to consume while taking Onglyza.

Onglyza can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain supplements as well as certain foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe. Drug-condition interactions can also cause certain effects. For information about these interactions, see the “Onglyza precautions” section above.

Onglyza and other medications

Below is a list of medications that can interact with Onglyza. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Onglyza.

Before taking Onglyza, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

Medications that affect how your body breaks down Onglyza

Certain medications can affect how your body breaks down Onglyza. Taking Onglyza with one of these medications can increase your risk of side effects from Onglyza. (To learn more, see the “Onglyza side effects” section above.)

Examples of these medications include:

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Onglyza and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Onglyza. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Onglyza.

Onglyza and foods

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect how your body breaks down certain drugs, including Onglyza. Consuming grapefruit or its juice can increase your risk of side effects from Onglyza. (To learn more, see the “Onglyza side effects” section above.)

There aren’t any other foods that have been specifically reported to interact with Onglyza. If you have any questions about eating certain foods with Onglyza, talk with your doctor.

It’s not known for certain whether Onglyza is safe to take during pregnancy. There haven’t been enough clinical trials of the drug in pregnant people to determine whether the drug is safe for pregnant people to take.

Keep in mind that managing type 2 diabetes while pregnant is important. If this condition isn’t managed well during pregnancy, there can be an increased risk of complications, including:

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on whether Onglyza or a different treatment for type 2 diabetes is right for you.

It’s not known if Onglyza is safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re taking Onglyza.

For more information about taking Onglyza during pregnancy, see the “Onglyza and pregnancy” section above.

It’s not known whether Onglyza passes into breast milk or whether the drug can cause side effects in a breastfed child.

Onglyza did pass into the milk of lactating animals in studies. However, animal studies don’t always show what may happen in humans.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before starting Onglyza treatment. They can help determine whether the drug is right for you. Your doctor can also suggest ways to feed your child.

Do not use more Onglyza than your doctor recommends. For some drugs, doing so may lead to unwanted side effects or overdose. (For information on the recommended dosages, see the “Onglyza dosage” section above.)

What to do in case you take too much Onglyza

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Onglyza from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that’s gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good to use can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

You should store Onglyza tablets at room temperature of 68° to 77° F (20° to 25° C) in a tightly sealed container. You may briefly store Onglyza tablets at 59° to 86° F (15° to 30° C), such as while traveling. Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Onglyza and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.