Spotlight on New Diabetes Treatments

Over the years, three diabetes treatments with entirely new modes of action were approved: exenatide injection (Byetta®, for people with type 2 diabetes), pramlintide injection (Symlin®, as an add-on to insulin therapy for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes) and Sitagliptin (Januvia® also for people with type 2 diabetes). “New is not necessarily better, but these are additional weapons in the armament,” says Nora Saul, MS, CDE, RD, LDN, Manager of Education Services at Joslin Diabetes Center. Saul educates Joslin Diabetes Center patients on blood glucose management.

Some diabetes medications help the pancreas release more insulin (if you have type 2 diabetes), others help cells use insulin better, and others keep the liver from releasing too much glucose. The three new treatments focus action on hormones called incretins. The two given by injection—Byetta and Symlin—have an added bonus of promoting weight loss.  “These three medications led the way for others being added to the list of available diabetes medications. Since then, many other additional medications have been added,” says Saul, “New to the list are Victoza, Bydureon, Tradjenta and Onglyza.”

With more options, treatments can be better tailored to an individual. Since type 2 diabetes is progressive, what works for some people for a period of time may lose effectiveness. For example, some people with type 2 diabetes may start treating the chronic disease with oral medications, and then subsequently discover that insulin would give them more control.

The following are the five new medical options that enhance blood glucose control for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes:

1. Exenatide injection (Byetta®)

Exenatide injection:

2. Exenatide extended release (Bydureon®)

Exenatide extended release is:

3. Liraglutide (Victoza®)

Liraglutide is:

4. Pramlintide acetate (Symlin®)

Pramlintide acetate:

5. Sitagliptin (Januvia®); saxagliptin (Onglyza®); and linagliptin (Tradjenta®)

All three of these pills:


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