In December 2006, the injected medication Byetta was approved by the FDA for people with type 2 diabetes who are taking a thiazolidinedione (TZD), but don’t have good control of their blood sugar.
Byetta has been approved for use with metformin and sulfonylureas since April 2005. Over 3.5 million type 2s are currently using oral TZDs, including Actos and Avandia, which control blood sugar by making muscle cells more sensitive to insulin.
In a clinical trial, 62 percent of patients who added Byetta (exenatide) to their TZD regimen achieved an A1c of 7 percent or less, compared to 16 percent of patients on a placebo. Not only that, but the people taking Byetta lost an average of 3.3 pounds over 16 weeks, compared to an average loss of 0.4 pounds in the placebo group. Nausea was the most common adverse effect, experienced by 40 percent of patients.
Gila Monster Gilly
Byetta (known as Lizzy or Gilly to its friends) is a synthetic drug modeled on exendin-4, a hormone found in the saliva of the enormous Gila Monster of the American Southwest. Since the Gila Monster eats only a few times a year, its pancreas is generally shut down – no use keeping it running at idle all the time.
But when the Gila Monster eats, it gets its pancreas up and moving again by secreting a shot of excendin-4. Researchers at Amylin, thinking that such a pancreas pick-me-up might work for humans as well, used exendin-4 to develop Byetta (exenatide).
Widespread Weight Loss
Byetta, which is injected twice daily via a multiple dose pen, results in lower postmeal and fasting glucose levels and better A1c’s. And while it doesn’t keep your meals down to just a few a year, it does, unlike most type 2 meds, help people lose weight. Informal reports of weight loss up to 60 pounds are a hot topic on the blogs, so its popularity is quite widespread among the widespread. The drug has been a blockbuster for Amylin, which is working on a long-acting form that would be injected only once a week – more like that old lizard all the time.
Byetta: Out of the Cooler and Into the Pocket
Although you still have to keep Byetta refrigerated until you first use it, you don’t have to keep it refrigerated afterward anymore. It’s now okay to keep a Byetta pen at temperatures between 36 degrees and 77 degrees Farenheit, after you’ve started using it.