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Non-Insulin Diabetes Injectables

Insulin isn't the only type of injectable diabetes medicine your doctor may prescribe. Other drugs include:

Albiglutide (Tanzeum)

What it is: Tanzeum is a man-made version of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Your intestines normally release this hormone when you eat. It helps control your blood sugar.

Who can take it: Adults who have type 2 diabetes who have not had success with other diabetes treatment.  If you're planning to get pregnant, talk with your doctor, since researchers haven't studied Tanzeum in pregnant women.

What it does: After you eat, Tanzeum helps your pancreas release insulin, which moves glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. It also curbs the production of a hormone called glucagon, which normally makes your liver release stored sugar. The drug also slows down digestion.

Side effects: The most common side effects are upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea, nausea, and skin reactions where you give yourself the injection.All GLP-1 drugs, including Tanzeum, have a boxed warning noting that in animal studies, this type of drug has been linked to thyroid cancer in some rats and mice, but experts don't know whether it has the same effect in people. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be severe, is another side effect.

Exenatide (Bydureon and Byetta)

What it is: Exenatide was the first GLP-1 drug approved by the FDA.  Byetta came first. You inject it twice daily. Bydureon is the newer, extended-release version, which you inject once a week. You can't take both Bydureon and Byetta.

Who can take it: Adults who have type 2 diabetes who have not had success with other diabetes treatment. If you're planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor, since researchers haven't studied exenatide in pregnant women.

What it does: Like other GLP-1 drugs, exenatide prompts your pancreas to release insulin, which moves glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells. It also curbs the production of a hormone called glucagon, which normally makes your liver release stored sugar. The drug also slows digestion.

Side effects: The most common ones include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling jittery, dizziness, headache, acid stomach, constipation, and weakness. These usually go away after the first month of treatment. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be severe, is another side effect. The FDA has also received reports of kidney failure in people taking this drug. All GLP-1 drugs, including Bydureon and Byetta, have a boxed warning noting that in animal studies, this type of drug has been linked to thyroid cancer in some rats and mice, but experts don't know whether it has the same effect in people. It's possible you could get low blood sugar or have an allergic reaction to the drug.

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