Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

New Diabetes Treatments Show Promise

Inhaled Insulin, Lizard-Saliva Drug Offer New Options
By
WebMD Health News

Editor's Note: The FDA approved the inhaled insulin drug Exubera in 2006, but in October 2007 the drug company Pfizer said it was halting sales of the drug because of financial reasons.

Oct. 17, 2005 -- Two new diabetes treatments appear to control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes who do not achieve glucose control.

Newly published studies highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the two treatments -- a long awaited inhaled version of insulin and a novel injected drug derived from the saliva of the American Southwest's venomous lizard, the Gila monster.

"Both of these new therapies hold promise, but also uncertainty," American Diabetes Association president Robert Rizza, MD, tells WebMD. "They will increase the options for people with diabetes."

Improving Blood Sugar

People with type 2 diabetes progressively lose their ability to make and use their own insulin, an important hormone that the body needs to process sugar. The aim of treatment is to improve impaired blood sugar control to reduce the risk of diabetic complications.

This might be possible with diet and exercise alone early in the disease process, or a single medication to either enhance insulin secretion or help increase insulin sensitivity like the drug Metformin.

Later on, patients may be put on a combination of diabetes drugs, but eventually many need daily injections of insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

The two new treatments were tested in people with type 2 diabetes whose blood sugar could no longer be controlled with a combination of these pills for diabetes.

Both studies are published in the Oct. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Weight Gain, Weight Loss

Unlike most other medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, including insulin, the new drug exenatide, made from the saliva of the Gila monster, does not cause weight gain. In fact, most patients lose some weight while taking the drug.

In a 26-week study comparing twice-daily injections of exenatide to long-acting, once-daily injections of insulin, patients on both treatments achieved similar blood sugar control. On average, those taking exenatide lost an average of 5 pounds, while those on insulin gained about 4.

But the exenatide group reported much higher rates of gastrointestinal side effects, with 57% reporting nausea, compared with 9% of the insulin patients, and 17% reported vomiting, compared with just fewer than 4% of those on insulin.

Overall, roughly 19% of the patients taking exenatide withdrew from the study because of side effects vs. just under 10% of those on insulin.

Patients receiving exenatide showed more improvement in blood glucose level after meals compared with the long-acting insulin (glargine), yet those taking long-acting insulin showed a greater reduction in fasting blood sugars compared with exenatide.

Both drugs similarly improved overall blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes with less than adequate control with a combination of oral diabetes medications, concludes the study.

The study was funded by exenatide manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co., a WebMD sponsor.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections