Byetta, also known as Exenatide, is the first in a new class of medicines for type 2 diabetes. It is an injectable drug made from the saliva of the gila monster. Exenatide is in a class called incretin mimetics. It mimics the action of the hormone human-glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1s are made and released into the blood by the intestine in response to food. They cause the pancreas to secrete insulin when blood sugar is high. They stop the liver from releasing glucagon. They also slow stomach emptying and decrease appetite. These actions reduce blood sugar levels overall. Byetta lowers blood sugar levels when they are high and stops after they reach a normal level.
Byetta can work by itself but it is often used with other oral medicines. Type 2 patients who do not have control of their blood sugar with their current medicines may take it.
Since Byetta causes the pancreas to create insulin, it should not be used in patients with type 1. It should not be used in place of insulin in patients who need it. Byetta may cause weight loss. That can be a good thing for people with diabetes who are overweight. But it can also cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and headaches. It may also cause low blood sugar. You are more likely to have low blood sugar if you take Byetta with other oral medicines. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these side effects. You may need to adjust your medicines. The FDA now requires Byetta to include information about the risk of pancreatitis on its label.
Byetta is made and marketed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Company. There is no generic form of the drug.
For more information, visit http://www.byetta.com/.
Reviewed by James A. Bennett 5/13.
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