Amylin Analogs

Amylin analogs are a prescription medication that can be used to treat people who have type 2 diabetes.

A hormone called insulin is produced by the pancreas, which works to move the glucose (sugar) we consume in food and drinks into our cells, where it is used as energy. In people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body is not able to properly utilize the insulin that is produced. This can cause too much sugar to build up in the bloodstream, and lead to serious health problems.

The pancreas produces another hormone called amylin, which works with insulin in the process of controlling your blood sugar levels. In some people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas also does not produce enough amylin, which can further contribute to high blood sugar.

Amylin analogs are manmade versions of the hormone amylin. They mimic the effect of amylin that is produced naturally by the body. Taking amylin analog medications can help some people with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

An amylin analog medication for type 2 diabetes is sold under the brand name Symlin (pramlintide), which is available in two different forms:

  • SymlinPen 60
  • SymlinPen 120

What is Symlin (pramlintide)?

Pramlintide, the active ingredient in Symlin, is an amylin analog. When a person takes Symlin, it has several effects:

  • It slows down the rate at which food passes through your stomach and then the rate that sugar is transferred into your bloodstream.
  • It prevents the liver from producing glucagon, which is a hormone that triggers the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • It can affect your brain in a way that makes you feel full after eating, and can reduce the appetite.

The effects of Symlin can help to reduce and control your blood sugar levels. In some people, it can also reduce their weight, although it is not designed or prescribed for weight loss.

According to AACE Guidelines, Symlin is usually prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes who are on a basal-bolus insulin regimen already, but need additional help to control their blood sugar levels. If you are prescribed Symlin, you will still need to take your mealtime insulin as prescribed by your healthcare provider, but never mix the injections, they must be taken separately.

Symlin is an injectable medication that is self-administered using a special injector pen prior to major meal times or as directed by your healthcare provider. It comes in two different sizes, SymlinPen 60 (used for doses of 15mcg, 30mcg, 45mcg and 60mg) and SymlinPen 120 (used for doses of 60mcg and 120mcg). Be sure to carefully follow the instructions that your healthcare provider will give when using the injector pen. It is very important that you never share your Symlin injector pen with another person, even if the needle is changed. Do not take Symlin if you are allergic to it or any ingredients in Symlin. Also, talk with your health care provider about potential drug interactions with your other medications.

Some people may experience side effects from taking Symlin. The most common side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache

A small number of people experience a serious side effect called hypoglycemia within 3 hours after taking Symlin. Hypoglycemia happens when your blood sugar level drops much too low. This can cause serious injuries at any time, but especially if you are driving or operating heavy machinery. Talk with your healthcare provider about the symptoms of hypoglycemia, so if it happens, you can be prepared with a fast-acting sugar or other treatment to raise your blood sugar level quickly. FDA black box warning: severe hypoglycemia.

These are not all the possible side effects of Symlin. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with Symlin. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience any side effects after taking Symlin or any other medication for type 2 diabetes.

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Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: May 2021