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John H. Holcombe, MD, is a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and medical fellow, diabetes, for Eli Lilly and Co.
Byetta lowers both post-meal and pre-meal blood sugar levels by stimulating the secretion of insulin only when blood sugar is high and by acutely restoring what is known as the first-phase insulin response—an action of cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. People with type 2 diabetes typically lack this first-phase insulin response. One of the most incredible and effective attributes of the drug is that it is self-regulating. It works only when the body needs it to and shuts off when it doesn’t. Additionally, patients in clinical studies taking the drug with their usual regimen of oral agents lost an average of five pounds.
With most type 2 diabetes treatments, hypoglycemia and weight gain are two of the most challenging side effects patients and their providers face in controlling diabetes progression and complication onset. Byetta is an entirely new approach to treating and addressing the vicious cycle associated with the disease, and it helps endocrinologists and primary care physicians treat their patients by tackling these two major obstacles.
Some additional advantages of Byetta:
What particular patient profiles should endos and PCPs consider for Byetta therapy, and why?
Byetta is indicated as adjunctive therapy to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus who are taking metformin, a sulfonylurea or a combination of both (common oral diabetes therapies), but who have not achieved adequate glycemic control. Byetta is not a substitute for insulin in insulin-requiring patients, and it should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Byetta is approved in an area where there is a great need—in combination with the most commonly used oral agents. Byetta is currently not approved for monotherapy, but the FDA has given Byetta an “approvable” indication for monotherapy, and the Amylin-Lilly alliance is working closely with the agency to provide the necessary clinical information needed for a monotherapy indication. Byetta is not a last-resort drug but an innovative new treatment option that takes a unique approach to lowering blood sugar levels.
In the clinical trials, nausea was the most common side effect; most episodes were mild to moderate in intensity, more frequent at initiation of treatment, and they decreased over time. When used with metformin, the risk of low blood glucose is not increased, but the risk for hypoglycemia is higher when Byetta is used along with a sulfonylurea.
Do you see patients with type 2 diabetes who don’t achieve the control you would like them to have on sulfonylurea or metformin therapy? If so, there is another option to consider: Byetta.
It has been just about a year now since Byetta was granted FDA approval as an adjunct therapy to improve blood glucose control in people with type 2. Byetta is an incretin mimetic, which, you guessed it, “mimics” the action of incretins (such as glucagon-like peptide 1), which are naturally occurring human hormones that are secreted in response to food intake and help lower blood glucose.
For full prescribing information for your patients with diabetes, log on to www.byetta.com.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.