An update on the safety of SGLT2 inhibitors

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2019 Apr;18(4):295-311. doi: 10.1080/14740338.2019.1602116. Epub 2019 Apr 16.


Introduction: Sodium-glucose cotransporter type 2 inhibitors (SGLT2is) are recommended after metformin for a large spectrum of patients with type 2 diabetes, because of a favorable benefit/risk profile despite a variety of adverse events.

Areas covered: This narrative review discusses the safety profile of SGLT2is: initial concerns (cardiovascular safety, acute renal failure, hypoglycemia, urinary and genital infections, volume depletion, bladder cancer), further concerns (euglycemic ketoacidosis, bone fractures) and more recent concerns (lower limb amputation, Fournier's gangrene).

Expert opinion: Overall, the safety profile of SGLT2is is good. The only increased adverse event that was consistently reported in clinical trials and observational studies is genital mycotic infections, with only a borderline increase in urinary tract infections. Among clinical trials, only the CANVAS program reported an unexpected increase in bone fractures and peripheral amputations. A variety of rare adverse events have been described as case reports, including ketoacidosis, amputations and Fournier gangrene, which led to specific warnings by regulatory agencies. Identifying predisposing patient's characteristics and/or precipitating clinical conditions would help prevent the most severe complications. These adverse events should not mask the overall cardiovascular and renal benefit of SGLT2is, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes at high cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Adverse event; cardiovascular disease; complications; gliflozin; safety; sglt2 inhibitor; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 2 Inhibitors