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Dopamine agonist

First approved for use by type 2 diabetes patients in 2009, dopamine agonists were originally formulated to treat other conditions such as Parkinson's disease. Although clinical studies have shown this class of medication to be effective in lowering A1c levels, it is not fully understood how the drug works to do so. However, it is known that it mimics the action of dopamine at specific receptors in the brain.

Who should use a dopamine agonist?

Dopamine agonists are not a first-line therapy for type 2 diabetes patients. Instead, they may be appropriate when other medications fail to adequately control an individual's blood sugar level. A dopamine agonist may be prescribed alone or used in conjunction with a medication from another class such as a sulfonylurea or metformin.

The Food and Drug Administration warns that breastfeeding women should not take a dopamine agonist as it can reduce their milk supply and may increase their risk of stroke. In addition, patients taking ergot medicines or those who have fainting migraine headaches should not take a dopamine agonist.

Medications in the dopamine agonist class

There is only one dopamine agonist approved for use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is bromocriptine mesylate and sold under the brand name Cycloset.

Common side effects and dosages

Cycloset was one of the first diabetes medications to meet a new FDA requirement regarding testing for impacts on cardiovascular health. Those studies found Cycloset demonstrated cardiovascular safety and did not contribute to an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.

However, there are some side effects associated with the use of bromocriptine mesylate. According to the FDA, common side effects include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting

The manufacturer of Cycloset reports patients will commonly beginning a regime of bromoctriptine mesylate by taking one tablet per day. Over time, that dosage typically increases to a maintenance dose of 2-6 tablets per day.

Important: Before taking a dopamine agonist or any other medication, individuals with type 2 diabetes should speak with their physician or health care provider to discuss their treatment options as well as any potential risks and drug interactions.

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About Maryalene LaPonsie

As a constituent case manager in the Michigan Legislature, Maryalene LaPonsie spent 13 years helping individuals address concerns regarding Medicaid eligibility, medical insurance claims and government regulations. Today, she reports on a variety of issues including health insurance, health reform and affordable health care options. Maryalene holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Western Michigan University.

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