April 30, 2017
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Side Effects


The following serious adverse reactions are described below or elsewhere in the prescribing information:

Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Adverse Reactions In Efficacy Trials

The data in Table 1 are derived from a pool of 5 placebo-controlled clinical trials [see Clinical Studies]. These data shown in the table reflect exposure of 882 patients to ONGLYZA and a mean duration of exposure to ONGLYZA of 21 weeks. The mean age of these patients was 55 years, 1.4 % were 75 years or older and 48.4% were male. The population was 67.5% White, 4.6% Black or African American, 17.4% Asian, Other 10.5% and 9.8% were of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. At baseline the population had diabetes for an average of 5.2 years and a mean HbA1c of 8.2%. Baseline estimated renal function was normal or mildly impaired (eGFR ≥ 60mL/min/1.73m²) in 91% of these patients.

Table 1 shows common adverse reactions, excluding hypoglycemia, associated with the use of ONGLYZA. These adverse reactions occurred more commonly on ONGLYZA than on placebo and occurred in at least 5% of patients treated with ONGLYZA.

Table 1: Adverse Reactions in Placebo-Controlled Trials* Reported in ≥ 5% of Patients Treated with ONGLYZA 5 mg and More Commonly than in Patients Treated with Placebo

  % of Patients
Upper respiratory tract infection 7.7 7.6
Urinary tract infection 6.8 6.1
Headache 6.5 5.9
* The 5 placebo-controlled trials include two monotherapy trials and one add-on combination therapy trial with each of the following: metformin, thiazolidinedione, or glyburide. Table shows 24-week data regardless of glycemic rescue.

In patients treated with ONGLYZA 2.5 mg, headache (6.5%) was the only adverse reaction reported at a rate ≥ 5% and more commonly than in patients treated with placebo.

In the add-on to TZD trial, the incidence of peripheral edema was higher for ONGLYZA 5 mg versus placebo (8.1% and 4.3%, respectively). The incidence of peripheral edema for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg was 3.1%. None of the reported adverse reactions of peripheral edema resulted in study drug discontinuation. Rates of peripheral edema for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg and ONGLYZA 5 mg versus placebo were 3.6% and 2% versus 3% given as monotherapy, 2.1% and 2.1% versus 2.2% given as add-on therapy to metformin, and 2.4% and 1.2% versus 2.2% given as add-on therapy to glyburide.

The incidence rate of fractures was 1.0 and 0.6 per 100 patient-years, respectively, for ONGLYZA (pooled analysis of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg) and placebo. The 10 mg dosage is not an approved dosage. The incidence rate of fracture events in patients who received ONGLYZA did not increase over time. Causality has not been established and nonclinical studies have not demonstrated adverse effects of ONGLYZA on bone.

An event of thrombocytopenia, consistent with a diagnosis of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, was observed in the clinical program. The relationship of this event to ONGLYZA is not known.

Discontinuation of therapy due to adverse reactions occurred in 2.2%, 3.3%, and 1.8% of subjects receiving ONGLYZA 2.5 mg, ONGLYZA 5 mg, and placebo, respectively. The most common adverse reactions (reported in at least 2 subjects treated with ONGLYZA 2.5 mg or at least 2 subjects treated with ONGLYZA 5 mg) associated with premature discontinuation of therapy included lymphopenia (0.1% and 0.5% versus 0%, respectively), rash (0.2% and 0.3% versus 0.3%), blood creatinine increased (0.3% and 0% versus 0%), and blood creatine phosphokinase increased (0.1% and 0.2% versus 0%).

Adverse Reactions With Concomitant Use With Insulin

In the add-on to insulin trial [see Clinical Studies], the incidence of adverse events, including serious adverse events and discontinuations due to adverse events, was similar between ONGLYZA and placebo, except for confirmed hypoglycemia [see Clinical Trials Experience].


Adverse reactions of hypoglycemia were based on all reports of hypoglycemia. A concurrent glucose measurement was not required or was normal in some patients. Therefore, it is not possible to conclusively determine that all these reports reflect true hypoglycemia.

In the add-on to glyburide study, the overall incidence of reported hypoglycemia was higher for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg and ONGLYZA 5 mg (13.3% and 14.6%) versus placebo (10.1%). The incidence of confirmed hypoglycemia in this study, defined as symptoms of hypoglycemia accompanied by a fingerstick glucose value of ≤ 50 mg/dL, was 2.4% and 0.8% for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg and ONGLYZA 5 mg and 0.7% for placebo [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. The incidence of reported hypoglycemia for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg and ONGLYZA 5 mg versus placebo given as monotherapy was 4% and 5.6% versus 4.1%, respectively, 7.8% and 5.8% versus 5% given as add-on therapy to metformin, and 4.1% and 2.7% versus 3.8% given as add-on therapy to TZD. The incidence of reported hypoglycemia was 3.4% in treatment-naive patients given ONGLYZA 5 mg plus metformin and 4% in patients given metformin alone.

In the active-controlled trial comparing add-on therapy with ONGLYZA 5 mg to glipizide in patients inadequately controlled on metformin alone, the incidence of reported hypoglycemia was 3% (19 events in 13 patients) with ONGLYZA 5 mg versus 36.3% (750 events in 156 patients) with glipizide. Confirmed symptomatic hypoglycemia (accompanying fingerstick blood glucose ≤ 50 mg/dL) was reported in none of the ONGLYZA-treated patients and in 35 glipizide-treated patients (8.1%) (p < 0.0001).

In the add-on to insulin trial, the overall incidence of reported hypoglycemia was 18.4% for ONGLYZA 5 mg and 19.9% for placebo. However, the incidence of confirmed symptomatic hypoglycemia (accompanying fingerstick blood glucose ≤ 50 mg/dL) was higher with ONGLYZA 5 mg (5.3%) versus placebo (3.3%).

In the add-on to metformin plus sulfonylurea trial, the overall incidence of reported hypoglycemia was 10.1% for ONGLYZA 5 mg and 6.3% for placebo. Confirmed hypoglycemia was reported in 1.6% of the ONGLYZA-treated patients and in none of the placebo-treated patients [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Hypersensitivity Reactions

Hypersensitivity-related events, such as urticaria and facial edema in the 5-study pooled analysis up to Week 24 were reported in 1.5%, 1.5%, and 0.4% of patients who received ONGLYZA 2.5 mg, ONGLYZA 5 mg, and placebo, respectively. None of these events in patients who received ONGLYZA required hospitalization or were reported as life-threatening by the investigators. One ONGLYZA-treated patient in this pooled analysis discontinued due to generalized urticaria and facial edema.

Renal Impairment

In the SAVOR trial, adverse reactions related to renal impairment, including laboratory changes (i.e., doubling of serum creatinine compared with baseline and serum creatinine > 6 mg/dL), were reported in 5.8% (483/8280) of ONGLYZA-treated subjects and 5.1% (422/8212) of placebo-treated subjects. The most frequently reported adverse reactions included renal impairment (2.1% vs. 1.9%), acute renal failure (1.4% vs. 1.2%), and renal failure (0.8% vs. 0.9%), in the ONGLYZA versus placebo groups, respectively. From baseline to the end of treatment, there was a mean decrease in eGFR of 2.5 mL/min/1.73m² for ONGLYZA-treated patients and a mean decrease of 2.4 mL/min/1.73m² for placebo-treated patients. More subjects randomized to ONGLYZA (421/5227, 8.1%) compared to subjects randomized to placebo (344/5073, 6.8%) had downward shifts in eGFR from > 50 mL/min (i.e., normal or mild renal impairment) to ≤ 50 mL/min (i.e., moderate or severe renal impairment). The proportions of subjects with renal adverse reactions increased with worsening baseline renal function and increased age, regardless of treatment assignment.


In the unblinded, controlled, clinical trial database for ONGLYZA to date, there have been 6 (0.12%) reports of tuberculosis among the 4959 ONGLYZA-treated patients (1.1 per 1000 patient-years) compared to no reports of tuberculosis among the 2868 comparator-treated patients. Two of these six cases were confirmed with laboratory testing. The remaining cases had limited information or had presumptive diagnoses of tuberculosis. None of the six cases occurred in the United States or in Western Europe. One case occurred in Canada in a patient originally from Indonesia who had recently visited Indonesia. The duration of treatment with ONGLYZA until report of tuberculosis ranged from 144 to 929 days. Post-treatment lymphocyte counts were consistently within the reference range for four cases. One patient had lymphopenia prior to initiation of ONGLYZA that remained stable throughout ONGLYZA treatment. The final patient had an isolated lymphocyte count below normal approximately four months prior to the report of tuberculosis. There have been no spontaneous reports of tuberculosis associated with ONGLYZA use. Causality has not been estimated and there are too few cases to date to determine whether tuberculosis is related to ONGLYZA use.

There has been one case of a potential opportunistic infection in the unblinded, controlled clinical trial database to date in an ONGLYZA-treated patient who developed suspected foodborne fatal salmonella sepsis after approximately 600 days of ONGLYZA therapy. There have been no spontaneous reports of opportunistic infections associated with ONGLYZA use.

Vital Signs

No clinically meaningful changes in vital signs have been observed in patients treated with ONGLYZA.

Laboratory Tests

Absolute Lymphocyte Counts

There was a dose-related mean decrease in absolute lymphocyte count observed with ONGLYZA. From a baseline mean absolute lymphocyte count of approximately 2200 cells/microL, mean decreases of approximately 100 and 120 cells/microL with ONGLYZA 5 mg and 10 mg, respectively, relative to placebo were observed at 24 weeks in a pooled analysis of five placebo-controlled clinical studies. Similar effects were observed when ONGLYZA 5 mg was given in initial combination with metformin compared to metformin alone. There was no difference observed for ONGLYZA 2.5 mg relative to placebo. The proportion of patients who were reported to have a lymphocyte count ≤ 750 cells/microL was 0.5%, 1.5%, 1.4%, and 0.4% in the ONGLYZA 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, and placebo groups, respectively. In most patients, recurrence was not observed with repeated exposure to ONGLYZA although some patients had recurrent decreases upon rechallenge that led to discontinuation of ONGLYZA. The decreases in lymphocyte count were not associated with clinically relevant adverse reactions. The 10 mg dosage is not an approved dosage.

In the SAVOR trial mean decreases of approximately 84 cells/microL with ONGLYZA relative to placebo was observed.

The proportion of patients who experienced a decrease in lymphocyte counts to a count of ≤ 750 cells/microL was 1.6% (136/8280) and 1.0% (78/8212) on ONGLYZA and placebo respectively.

The clinical significance of this decrease in lymphocyte count relative to placebo is not known. When clinically indicated, such as in settings of unusual or prolonged infection, lymphocyte count should be measured. The effect of ONGLYZA on lymphocyte counts in patients with lymphocyte abnormalities (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus) is unknown.

Postmarketing Experience

Additional adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of ONGLYZA. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is generally not possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis, angioedema, and exfoliative skin conditions [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Read the Onglyza (saxagliptin tablets) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


Strong Inhibitors Of CYP3A4/5 Enzymes

Ketoconazole significantly increased saxagliptin exposure. Similar significant increases in plasma concentrations of saxagliptin are anticipated with other strong CYP3A4/5 inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, clarithromycin, indinavir, itraconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, and telithromycin). The dose of ONGLYZA should be limited to 2.5 mg when coadministered with a strong CYP3A4/5 inhibitor [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Read the Onglyza Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/9/2017

Side Effects

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