updated 5/2/2011 3:54:56 PM ET 2011-05-02T19:54:56

The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a new diabetes pill from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly for patients who can't control their blood sugar with older medicines.

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The agency approved Tradjenta tablets for adults with type 2 diabetes, which affects 24 million people in the U.S.

People with the disease have trouble breaking down carbohydrates, because their bodies have become resistant to the protein insulin. They are at higher risk for heart attacks, kidney problems, blindness and other serious complications.

Tradjenta works by blocking the DPP-4 enzyme, which releases insulin-boosting hormones that help control blood sugar levels. Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb already market similar drugs in the U.S.

The FDA approved the drug as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with older diabetes drugs like metformin.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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