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Diabetes Drugs

Other Injectable Medications

Besides insulin, there are two other classes of injectable diabetes medicines:
  • Incretin mimetics
  • Amylin analogues.
These drugs may be used to treat type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes.
Incretin Mimetics
Four incretin mimetics are available: exenatide (Byetta®), long-acting exenatide (Bydureon®), liraglutide (Victoza®), and dulaglutide (Trulicity™). They work by acting like the hormone incretin in the body, increasing insulin production and slowing digestion. These drugs are used to treat type 2 diabetes, either by themselves or in combination with other diabetes medications. They are taken by injection just under the skin (subcutaneous injection) either once daily (for Victoza) or twice daily (for Byetta).
A long-acting version of exenatide (Bydureon®) was the most recent incretin mimetic to be approved. This drug is injected just once a week.
Amylin Analogues
One amylin analogue is available, called pramlintide acetate (Symlin®). Pramlintide is used to treat both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. This diabetes drug works like the hormone amylin in the body, increasing insulin production, slowing digestion, decreasing the production of glucose by the liver, and reducing appetite.

Final Thoughts

There are several classes of diabetes medication available for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes treatment. Your healthcare provider will consider a number of factors before deciding on which drug or combination of drugs is best for your situation.
Keep in mind that treatment for diabetes can require considerable time and patience -- both for you and your doctor. It can be frustrating to take pills or shots and possibly experience side effects, especially if you felt fine before taking the drugs. Remember that your blood sugar is only lowered while you are taking these medications. That's why diabetes drugs can't be stopped in most cases.
Try not to get discouraged if you must be treated indefinitely. Coping with the inconvenience of these medications is still much better than suffering a stroke, heart attack, or other diabetes complications.
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