Bydureon: The Newest GLP-1 Agonist for Type 2 Diabetes

by Cindy

Bydureon is one of the newest medications to be added to the arsenal of type 2 diabetes medications.  Interestingly, this medication has been available for several months now and seems to have received very little attention from patients and providers.

What is Bydureon?

Bydureon is the latest addition to the drug family known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.  It is an extended release formulation of the injectable drug Exenatide (Byetta).  Bydureon differs from Byetta in that it is injected only once per week.

How Does Bydureon Work?

These medications work by mimicking the action of the hormone known as Glucagon-like Peptide 1, or GLP-1.  The natural GLP-1 hormone is produced within the gut and is known to:

  • Increase the production of insulin when patients experience elevations in blood sugars, particularly after meals
  • Slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream
  • Helps the brain recognize that the stomach is full

The many actions of GLP-1 make these medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists a very effective tool in the fight against diabetes. The naturally occurring GLP-1 hormone only lasts within the body for a brief time and this is why medications such as Bydureon and Byetta, which are not destroyed as rapidly, have been developed.

These medications are popular because they only work in the setting of hyperglycemia and are not known to cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, unless combined with other medications. In addition, GLP-1 receptor agonists like Bydureon and Byetta have been shown to suppress appetite and contribute to weight loss in diabetic patients.

Who Can Use Bydureon?

Bydureon is approved for use in patients with type 2 diabetes.  This medication is not approved as a first line agent for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and its effectiveness with the use of injectable insulin remains unstudied.

This medication may increase the risk for the development of thyroid tumors and pancreatitis and should be used with caution in certain patient populations.  It is not approved for use in children or patients with type 1 diabetes.  This medication has not been well studied in pregnant women or in patients with kidney problems.

What are the Side Effects of Bydureon?

Potential side effects of Bydureon include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Localized irritation at the injection site

Exenatide (Byetta) has been a popular type 2 diabetes medication for several years now.  Its twice daily injectable form may have been a deterrent for many patients who could have benefited from the use of a GLP-1 agonist.  Now that Exenatide is available in a weekly injection in the form of Bydureon, many of these patients may be more willing to discuss the use of this medication with their family physician or endocrinologist.

Learn more about this medication from the manufacturer here!

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