FDA okays new diabetes pill, Tradjenta

Medications can be essential, even life-saving. But they cannot bring about the weight loss that is needed for really tackling diabetes and keeping blood sugar under control. And while medications usually target one problem at a time - blood glucose or cholesterol, for example - a healthy diet tackles all of these at once. Diet and lifestyle are especially important for preventing diabetes. Recently, scientists tested two methods for preventing type 2 diabetes in at-risk people. Diet and exercise proved more powerful for prevent diabetes than drug treatments.

(CBS/AP) Got diabetes? You should know that the FDA just approved a new pill for diabetics who can't control their blood sugar with other medicines.

The agency said Monday it approved Tradjenta tablets for type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. It affects up to 95 percent of the 24 million Americans with diabetes.

People with the disease have trouble breaking down sugars in their bloodstream, because their bodies are resistant to the protein insulin. They are at high risk for serious problems, including heart attacks, kidney problems, and blindness.

The drug - from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly - works by blocking an enzyme, releasing insulin-boosting hormones that help curb blood sugar levels. Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb already market similar drugs.

The FDA approved the Tradjenta (linagliptin) as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with older diabetes drugs like metformin. Many diabetes patients must combine drugs to manage their blood sugar levels.

The new drug's most common side effects are respiratory infection, sore throat, muscle pain and headache. Tradjenta will be distributed with a medication guide explaining the drug's risks to patients.