The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is There a Dark Side to the Diabetes Drug Jardiance?

Jardiance is being advertised on television. The manufacturer wants people to know that this diabetes drug has advantages over other medicines. But there are also some serious risks. What are they?

If you watch television, there is a decent chance you have seen a Jardiance commercial. The manufacturer is promoting “Big News” about this diabetes drug. Towards the end of the TV spot, the interviewer asks a patient: “What do you think?” The person responds: “I think it’s time to think about Jardiance.” The tagline: “Ask your doctor about Jardiance and get to the heart of what matters.” What’s this all about?

The Diabetes Dilemma!

Diabetes is a leading cause of death. The CDC states that:

“More than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes (30.3 million) or prediabetes (84.1 million).”

Complications of type 2 diabetes include kidney disease, eye and nerve damage, dementia and cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and strokes. The goal of treating diabetes is to reduce the likelihood of developing these serious health problems.

A Surprising Diabetes Drug Problem:

One of the unexpected consequences of some diabetes medicines was an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure and other cardiovascular complications. No doubt this came as a big shock to the companies as well as the Food and Drug Administration.

You can learn more about some of these unanticipated complications at this link:

Diabetes Drugs: A Disappointing Tale of Broken Promises

The FDA then required companies to test newer diabetes drugs for the potential to cause heart problems.

Certain companies breathed a sigh of relief when their diabetes medications didn’t cause heart attacks and strokes. But they didn’t mention that these drugs also failed to prevent such catastrophes.

The Jardiance “Big News” Commercial:

That’s why the maker of empagliflozin (Jardiance) has been bragging about the performance of its diabetes medicine. The television commercial in question features a man announcing:

“Today we’re out here with some big news. Jardiance is the only type 2 diabetes pill proven to both significantly reduce the chance of dying from a cardiovascular event in adults who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease AND lower your [Hb]A1c.”

The patient in the commercial responds with just one word:


A female voice then rapidly reads a list of possible adverse reactions:

“Jardiance can cause serious side effects including dehydration. This may cause you to feel dizzy, faint or lightheaded or weak upon standing.

“Ketoacidosis is a serious side effect that may be fatal. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness and trouble breathing. Stop taking Jardiance and call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of ketoacidosis or an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash, swelling and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

“Do not take Jardiance if you are on dialysis or have severe kidney problems. Other side effects are sudden kidney problems, genital yeast infections, increased bad cholesterol and urinary tract infections, which may be serious.”

Jardiance Side Effects: Reports from Real People

That long list of side effects may sound abstract when you hear them spoken rapidly on television. But for some of our readers they are anything but.

One person wrote:

“Jardiance landed me in the hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It’s potentially fatal. The medical staff suspected that this med was the culprit, and in fact admitted that they had had a case similar to mine just a few weeks prior.”

Another reader had a different experience with Jardiance:

“I recently was hospitalized for a week with severe blood sepsis. The sudden appearance of a kidney stone stopped the flow of urine. I believe it was caused by the drug Jardiance. This drug can cause dehydration and ‘sudden acute kidney injury.’ The elderly are at highest risk.

“I reported this problem to the FDA, but the reporting process is time-consuming. You also have to be very computer savvy. I believe others might be suffering unreported reactions.”

The People’s Pharmacy Perspective:

Doctors need to alert patients to the potential risks as well as the benefits of diabetes drugs. Lowering blood sugar is important, but the ultimate goal is avoiding complications from both prescribed medications and type 2 diabetes.

Learn more about some other ways to help manage blood sugar in our Guide to Managing Diabetes at this link.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Anyone have other side effects withdrawing from Jardiance? I have had dehydration and had to go to the hospital to get IV fluids. Am still drinking electrolyte water to catch up. Each day gets better but taking a long time. I was told by the ER doctor that it could take 2 weeks to clear Jardiance from my system. So far all tests for kidneys, ketoacidosis, thyroid, blood pressure, etc. are good and/or come back negative for any issues. Guess I am lucky but sure does not feel that way with the symptoms.

Money runs this industry. There is nothing else.

One of the other complications of diabetes, especially type II, is the risk for amputations thought to be due to decreased lower extremety circulation or infection that won’t heal.

I know a lot of folks that this happened to. Surprised it’s not on the list!

I know that you (Joe and Terry) don’t control the advertising on your website but it was ironic that the advertisement for this article was one for Jardiance.

I am a type 1 diabetic (42 years). My Endo put me on Jardiance to help after a heart attach. It did help stabilize my blood sugars but after about 6 months I started having bone pain. Started off as an ache and rapidly became terrible. I stopped Jardiance, and within 2 weeks pain was gone. Great stuff if you can tolerate the side effects.

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