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Bydureon: a once-weekly injection for type 2 diabetes

For patients with type 2 diabetes, a new treatment option that's injected just once a week may provide better blood glucose levels as well as other health benefits -- and may actually be easier to remember to take.

Bydureon, the brand name of the drug exenatide extended-release for injection, is manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and the medication received approval from the Food & Drug Administration in January 2012. It is a longer-lasting version of the medication Byetta, also manufactured by Amylin. Like other diabetes oral medications, Bydureon is intended to be used along with eating well and regular exercise, as well as other oral diabetes medications as needed, to help manage blood sugar control.

How does Bydureon work?

Bydureon works by helping the body to use insulin more efficiently as well as suppresses appetite. Bydureon taken as an injection after the user mixes the medication with a powder and a liquid solution, and should be refrigerated before use.

"It's a lot easier to use," said Louis Aronne, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "When you look at the [medications] that you take once- or twice-daily, it's a lot easier to give yourself a shot once a week."

Doing so, he said, helps patients remember to take the medication, rather than forget a dose here and there, which can be common. "Patients can forget to take the daily version when they want to eat something," Aronne said.

Bydureon takes six weeks to build up to its full effect in the body, and another six weeks to stop fully working if a patient stops taking it.

Bydureon lowers A1c, blood sugar, blood pressure

According to one study presented in June at the American Diabetes Association's 72nd Scientific Sessions, the annual conference for the professional diabetes community, people who used Bydureon over a period of four years were more likely to have lower A1c readings, fasting blood sugar levels, weight and pulse pressure readings. This was from an analysis of seven clinical studies that included more than 1,700 patients with type 2 diabetes, and researchers were affiliated with both Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Company.

Similarly, another study analyzed how effective Bydureon was as compared to taking Levemir insulin once or twice a day. That research, conducted over a four-year period, included 176 patients with type 2 diabetes. Over that time, average hemoglobin A1c readings, which give an average level of blood sugar readings over the past three months, began at 8.2 +/- 0.9 percent but lowered to 6.9 +/- 0.1 percent. Patients also lowered their fasting blood sugar rates, systolic blood pressure readings, total cholesterol numbers, LDL and triglyceride readings, according to the study abstract, "Exenatide Once Weekly Resulted in Sustained Improvement in Glycemic Control With Weight Loss Through Four Years."

The work was conducted by researchers affiliated with Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

Bydureon's added benefits of weight loss and cardiovascular improvement in addition to better blood sugar control were notable, said Dr. Aronne, who was not involved in any of the Bydureon studies.

"The thing about treating weight and A1c readings is, not only do you get the blood sugar under control, but you also improve other parameters at the same time," said Dr. Aronne in a phone interview. "That's a bargain in my mind."

Bydureon patient safety information

Article sources  expand

About Cheryl Alkon

Cheryl Alkon is the author of Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby and the creator of the blog, "Managing the Sweetness Within." As a longtime writer, her work has appeared in various print and online titles including the New York Times, Body&Soul, Boston, More and Woman's Day magazines.

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