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.
Who can take it? Who can't?
Adults with type 2 diabetes can use Byetta. It is not meant for people with type 1 diabetes, and should be avoided by those with kidney disease, slow digestion caused by stomach disorders, or those on dialysis.
What dosage can I take and how should I take it?
The initial dose is 5 mcg, twice a day, and is injected.
How often should I use Byetta?
Twice daily, before morning and evening meals.
When should I use Byetta?
60 minutes before morning and evening meals.
What are the possible side effects?
Using Byetta may cause severe stomach pain, back pain, weight gain, swelling, drowsiness, confusion, diarrhea, and mood change.
Are other diabetes medications used with Byetta?
Byetta can be used with other diabetes medications. You are encouraged to consult with your doctor to learn about the interaction between Byetta and medications you are taking.
What should I tell my doctor before using Byetta?
Tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking, as well as general allergies or allergies you have to the ingredients of Byetta. Also inform your doctor if you have a history of kidney disease, digestion problems, pancreatitis, gall stones, alcoholism, or high triglycerides.
Reviewed by James A. Bennett 5/13.
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