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Non-Insulin Diabetes Injectables

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Liraglutide (Victoza)

What it is: Victoza is another GLP-1 drug. You inject it once a day, and it helps your body release more insulin and move glucose from your bloodstream into your cells.

Who can take it: Adults who have type 2 diabetes who have not had success with other diabetes treatment. You take it in combination with metformin or a sulfonylurea drug. If you're planning to get pregnant, talk with your doctor, since this drug hasn’t been studied in pregnant women.

What it does: Like other GLP-1 drugs, Victoza 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 side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and headache. Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which may be severe, is another side effect. All GLP-1 drugs, including Victoza, 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 to have an allergic reaction to Victoza, or to get low blood sugar while you're taking it. If you get dehydrated from nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, that could lead to kidney failure.

Pramlintide (Symlin)

What it is: Symlin is a man-made version of a hormone called amylin, which your pancreas makes along with insulin when your blood sugar levels rise.

Who can take it: It's approved for people with type 1 diabetes who are taking insulin, and people with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin, a sulfonylurea drug, and/or metformin. If you're planning to get pregnant, tell your doctor, since researchers haven't studied this drug in pregnant women.

What it does: You take Symlin with insulin after a meal. The two drugs work together to lower your blood sugar. Symlin also slows your body's digestion of food, which puts less sugar into your bloodstream. In addition to controlling your A1c levels, Symlin helps reduce your appetite, so you eat less.

Side effects: Nausea is the most common side effect. Other side effects include decreased appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, dizziness, or indigestion. Starting this drug at a low dose and increasing it slowly can help combat the nausea. Symlin can also cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if you don't adjust the amount of insulin you're taking.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on September 06, 2014
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