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Oral Diabetes Medications (cont.)

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What non-insulin injectable drugs are approved for diabetes?

During digestion, pancreatic beta cells release not only insulin, but in a much smaller amount, the hormone amylin, which helps mediate sharp rises in blood glucose levels following meals. Pramlintide (Symlin) is a new, synthetic form of amylin that may help improve blood glucose control for some type 1 and type 2 diabetic people who use insulin. Pramlintide has few side effects (nausea is the main one) but it adds another set of injections to a diabetic person's daily pharmaceutical routine, as it cannot be mixed in the same syringe with insulin.

Another non-insulin injection for people with diabetes is exenatide (Byetta). This medication, originally derived from a compound found in the saliva of the Gila monster, triggers insulin release from the pancreas when blood glucose levels rise. Exenatide is meant to be used along with oral diabetes drugs. It is dosed twice daily and should be injected within an hour of the morning and evening meals. Recently, the FDA warned that exenatide may increase the risk of severe even fatal pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and that the drug should be discontinued and not restarted if signs and symptoms of pancreatitis develop (severe abdominal pain, for example). It is not for use in people with type 1 diabetes.



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