Glucagonlike Peptide-1 (GLP-1) Agonists

What are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists?

 

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists are a class of drugs that can be used to treat people who have type 2 diabetes. This class of drugs are also called “incretin mimetics.”

The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which transports glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and into the cells, where it provides fuel for the cells’ functions. When we consume glucose in foods and drinks, the level of glucose in the bloodstream is higher until the glucose is transferred out of the bloodstream by insulin.

Incretins are a group of hormones that are involved in the process of reducing blood glucose levels after eating. Glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone that is produced in the intestines. After you eat, GLP-1 triggers the release of insulin by the pancreas to transport glucose out of the bloodstream and restore your blood sugar to normal levels.

GLP-1 agonist medications work by producing effects similar to those of the GLP-1 hormone, which has several different beneficial effects:

  • It increases the amount of insulin that is produced by the pancreas, when it is needed to transport glucose (for example, after meals).
  • It slows down the rate that food moves through your stomach, meaning that glucose enters the bloodstream at a slower rate.
  • It prevents the liver from producing sugar when it is not needed.
  • It can make you feel full more quickly, which may help you to eat smaller quantities.

Together, these effects can help control blood sugar levels in some people with type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 agonists are injectable medications, because their active ingredients would not work if taken by mouth.

According to the AACE, GLP-1 agonists can be prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes who:

  • Have been unable to manage their blood sugar with lifestyle management, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight loss, and need to try a diabetes medication
  • Have already tried treatment with one or more other types of medications for a few months, but their blood sugar levels are still not under control.

GLP-1 agonists are sold under some of the following brand names:

What is Byetta (exenatide)?

Exenatide, the active ingredient in Byetta is a GLP-1 agonist medication that can be used in combination with diet and exercise, to treat adults with type 2 diabetes.

Byetta is self-injected using a prefilled injector pen for each dose. Never share your injector pen with anyone else. Byetta is usually injected twice a day within an hour before your morning meal and evening meal. However, be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions carefully for taking Byetta. Do not take Byetta if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in Byetta. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

Some of the most common side effects that taking Byetta can cause are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Injection site reactions
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Feeling jittery

In some people, taking Byetta can also cause more serious side effects:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney problems such as renal failure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Allergic reactions

Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects from Byetta or any other medication for type 2 diabetes.

What is Bydureon (exenatide ER)?

Bydureon is a treatment option for some adults with type 2 diabetes, which is used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The active ingredient in Bydureon is exenatide ER, which is a GLP-1 agonist.

For some people, Bydureon also has the effect of making you eat less, and possibly lose weight, because it can make you feel full more quickly. However, Bydureon is not a weight loss drug.

Bydureon can be injected using a syringe or a pre-filled injector pen. Bydureon is an extended release drug, so most people inject Bydureon once per week. However, you should follow your own healthcare provider’s instructions for taking Bydureon. Do not take Bydureon if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in Bydureon. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

Some of the most common side effects reported by people taking Bydureon are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itching or a small bump at the injection site
  • Indigestion

Some people experience very serious side effects from taking Bydureon. These include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach problems
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Slightly higher risk of thyroid tumors

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about the signs and symptoms of Bydureon’s side effects. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience side effects from Bydureon or any of your other medications.

What is Victoza (liraglutide)?

Victoza is a medication that can be used by some adults with type 2 diabetes, in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, to help them control their blood sugar levels. Liraglutide, the active ingredient in Victoza, is a GLP-1 agonist.

Another effect of Victoza, although it is not a weight loss drug, is that it can make you feel full more quickly. For some people, this reduces the amount of food that they eat and helps them to lose weight.

People self-inject Victoza in an injectable, prefilled pen. You need to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about how to take Victoza, but most people will inject Victoza once per day. Do not take Victoza if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in it. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

Among people who use Victoza, some of the most common side effects are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Decrease in appetite

Using Victoza can also cause more serious side effects in some people, such as:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Slightly higher risk of thyroid tumors
  • Allergic reactions

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about the signs of these side effects, and it is important to let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience side effects from Victoza or any of your other medications.

What is Tanzeum (albiglutide)?

Tanzeum is a type of GLP-1 agonist medicine that can be used by some adults with type 2 diabetes to help control their blood sugar levels. It must be used in addition to maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. The active ingredient in Tanzeum is albiglutide, a GLP-1 agonist.

Tanzeum is an injectable medication that is self-administered using a prefilled injector pen. It is very important never to share your pen with anyone else. Most people take Tanzeum once per week, but your healthcare provider will give you detailed instructions to follow. Do not take Tanzeum if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in Tanzeum. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

The most common side effects reported by people who take Tanzeum are:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • injection site reaction
  • back pain
  • cold and flu symptoms

There are also some very serious side effects that affect some people who use Tanzeum. These include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Slightly higher risk of thyroid tumors

Let your healthcare provider know if you experience any side effects while taking Tanzeum or any other medication.

What is Trulicity (dulaglutide)?

Trulicity, a GLP-1 agonist medication, is a treatment option for some adults with type 2 diabetes. Trulicity is not designed for weight loss, but some people find that they eat less because they feel more full.

Trulicity is generally self-administered once weekly using an injectable, prefilled pen. It is important to carefully follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for administering Trulicity. Do not take Trulicity if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in it. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

The most common side effects reported by people taking Trulicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Indigestion

Trulicity can also cause some very serious side effects in a small number of people. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about the signs and symptoms of the following serious side effects:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Severe stomach problems
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Slightly higher risk of thyroid tumors

If you experience side effects from taking Trulicity or any other medication, let your healthcare provider know right away.

What is Adlyxin (lixisenatide)?

For some adults with type 2 diabetes, Adlyxin is a GLP-1 agonist medication that may help to control their blood sugar levels when used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The active ingredient in Adlyxin, lixisenatide, is a GLP-1 agonist.

Adlyxin is generally self-administered using a prefilled injector pen once a day, at the same time every day and within 1 hour before the first meal of the day. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for administering Adlyxin exactly. Do not take Adlyxin if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in Adlyxin. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

The most common side effects of taking Adlyxin include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • eeling dizzy

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about the signs and symptoms of some very serious side effects that treatment with Adlyxin can cause, such as:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Severe allergic reactions

Let your healthcare provider know if you experience side effects from taking Adlyxin or any of your other medications.

What is Bydureon BCise (exenatide ER)?

Bydureon BCise is a treatment option for some adults with type 2 diabetes, which is used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The active ingredient in Bydureon BCise is exenatide ER, which is a GLP-1 agonist.

Bydureon BCise can be injected using an auto injector pen. Bydureon BCise is an extended release drug, so most people inject Bydureon BCise once per week. However, you should follow your own healthcare provider’s instructions for taking Bydureon. Do not take Bydureon BCise if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients found in Bydureon BCise. Bydureon BCise should not be used at the same time as Byetta or Bydureon. Always check with your health care provider on potential drug interactions before starting new medication.

Some of the most common side effects reported by people taking Bydureon BCise are:

  • Nausea
  • Itching or a small bump at the injection site

Some people experience very serious side effects from taking Bydureon BCise. These include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach problems
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Higher risk of thyroid tumors

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about the signs and symptoms of Bydureon BCise’s side effects. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience side effects from Bydureon BCise or any of your other medications.

Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: April 2017
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