Amylin Analogs (Symlin)

Amylin analogs are a class of drugs approved to treat people with type 2 diabetes (T2D). The drugs work by mimicking a natural body hormone called amylin. This helps reduce blood sugar for many people with T2D.

One amyloid analog is called Symlin® (pramlintide). Your doctor may suggest taking Symlin before meals when insulin alone does not control blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about how to take Symlin and any possible side effects.

How do amylin analogs work?

Amylin is a hormone that your pancreas produces, along with insulin. The levels of amylin and insulin rise and fall together, corresponding to your meal times. These hormones work together to remove glucose (sugar) from your blood.1

In people with T2D, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin or the body cannot properly use the insulin. Some people with T2D also do not produce enough amylin. Combined, this can cause too much sugar to build up in the bloodstream.1

Amylin analogs are synthetic versions of the natural hormone amylin. They mimic the effect of amylin produced by the body. They can help some people with T2D by:1,2

  • Slowing down the process of food leaving the stomach (gastric emptying)
  • Increasing feelings of fullness
  • Decreasing the release of another pancreatic hormone (glucagon) after eating

This can help some people with T2D control blood sugar levels. It also can help reduce body weight, even though amylin analogs are not prescribed for weight loss.2

Examples of amylin analogs

One amylin analog used in T2D is called Symlin (pramlintide). It is available in 2 forms:3

  • SymlinPen 60
  • SymlinPen 120

SymlinPen 60 is used for doses of up to 60 mcg. This is more commonly used for people with type 1 diabetes. SymlinPen120 is used for doses of up to 120 mcg. This is more commonly used for people with T2D.3

What are some possible side effects of amylin analogs?

Side effects can vary but usually go away within a few weeks. Slowly increasing the dose can help reduce the risk of side effects. The most common side effects of amylin analogs include:1,3

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

Amylin analogs usually do not cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for people with T2D. However, talk to your doctor about the risk of hypoglycemia based on other drugs you take. They can tell you about hypoglycemia symptoms and treatment.1

These are not all the possible side effects of amylin analogs. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking amylin analogs. You should also call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking amylin analogs.

Other things to know about amylin analogs

Amylin analogs are meant for people with T2D who are already taking insulin at mealtimes. If insulin does not control your blood sugar, your doctor may suggest also taking an amylin analog. You will still need to take insulin as prescribed by your doctor. However, you must take insulin and the amylin analog separately and avoid mixing them.1

Take amylin analogs exactly as your doctor prescribes. Symlin is an injectable drug that you can give yourself before meals. You should only take it before meals with at least 250 calories or 30 grams of carbohydrates, or as prescribed by your doctor.1

Before you start taking an amylin analog, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to any ingredients in amylin analogs
  • If you have any other health conditions (especially gastroparesis)
  • If you are taking any other drugs – especially anticholinergics – including:
    • Vitamins
    • Supplements
    • Over-the-counter drugs

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Written by: Matt Zajac | Last reviewed: May 2022