SGLT-2 inhibitors such as Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) Jardiance may change outcomes for diabetes patients by reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes. Can Jardiance's sales jump from their current $38 million per quarter pace to make this drug a top-seller? Learn more about SGLT-2 inhibitors and how they may benefit diabetes patients, in this clip from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus: Healthcare podcast.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on Jun. 15, 2016. 

Gaby Lapera: SGLT2, to begin with, stands for sodium/glucose cotransporter 2. It's a transporter protein that's dependent on sodium to basically ferry glucose wherever it's going. These guys are in the kidneys. What happens is that if you block the SGLT2 -- these are SGLT2 inhibitors so that means that they're not letting the glucose that's coming through the kidneys go back into the bloodstream. Basically, you're going to urinate most of your excess glucose out, which is a lot safer than having it build up in your bloodstream and do bad things.

Kristine Harjes: These are used alongside Metformin and insulin just to improve your control over your glucose.

Todd Campbell: Right. It's Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) that makes the best-selling SGLT2 drug. That's Invokana, the one that has a $1.3 billion run rate today.

Harjes: I think a large part of that is they were the first to market with this sort of drug. It's already been on the market for about a year and a half. That's not even true. They've actually been on the market for almost three years. They beat everybody else to market by a year and a half. It is by far the best-selling of this class. You also have a couple of competitors. You have AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) with Farxiga. I might be saying that wrong -- as usual with these drug names. That's the second most popular in this class.

The one I think is really interesting, particularly because we're talking about these cardiovascular outcomes, is Eli Lilly's Jardiance, which somewhat recently they announced that it actually did have great outcomes in this long-term trial. The other two that we mentioned, Farxiga and Invokana, we're not going to have long-term data on their cardiovascular outcomes until 2019. It's perceived that this could be a classwide effect, but we don't know for sure yet.

Campbell: It's going to be really interesting to see how the doctors react to that news, if they're going to assume that it's a classwide effect and continue to prescribe Invokana instead of Jardiance, or not. Jardiance's sales kind of trickle compared to these other drugs. I think they did about $38 million in sales last quarter. It will be interesting to watch and see how that plays out among prescribers.

Lapera: In case you're wondering why we're all so obsessed with the cardiovascular effects of these drugs, it's because when you have diabetes, your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease is conservatively doubled, I believe. Don't quote me on that number, but it is increased by a lot. Anything that reduces that chance is huge.

Campbell: The majority of deaths that are caused by diabetes are caused by cardiovascular issues. It means microvascular stuff that gets affected, so that makes a lot of sense.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.