Drugs for Diabetes Treatment

Ongoing development of drugs for treating diabetes promises to improve quality of life for diabetic patients.


The drug Byetta (exenatide) mimics the hormone GLP-1 (glucagonlike peptide-1). Byetta is made by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and is generally prescribed for twice daily injection for type 2 diabetes.

In a recent study, Byetta achieved reduction in A1c levels of over 1% which is comparable to results observed with insulin therapy in combination with sulfonylurea and metformin.

To diabetics who must self-inject twice per day, a once daily dosing schedule can be a huge benefit. Several drug companies are at work on once daily insulin dosing schedules, so be on the lookout for updates on this topic.

Exenatide is also reported to benefit muscle movement and may have application in a treatment regimen for patients with Parkinson's disease.


This exenatide formulation is an extended relase suspension for once-weekly dosing by injection. AstraZeneca markets Bydureon in the U.S.


FARXIGA� (dapagliflozin) is a medication for adults with Type 2 diabetes. It is used to improve glycemic control.

Dapagliflozin is an SGLT2 inhibitor that stimulates the kidneys to eliminate more glucose from the body. In a 2010 study of 534 adult patients with type 2 diabetes who were already taking metformin, the 10 mg dapagliflozin daily was associated with a 0.84 percent decrease in Hb A1c levels. Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca are developing dapagliflozin together.

Januvia and Janumet

Januvia (aka Sitagliptin) is a DPP-IV inhibitor by OSI Pharmaceuticals that is approved for once-daily dosing. This type of drug works by up regulating incretin hormones to reduce blood sugar levels. Januvia has been shown to reduce A1c levels by up to 1% and to reduce fasting plasma glucose levels (FPG) by about 15 mg/dL.

Unlike insulin therapy, DPP-4 inhibitors work by enhancing the body's natural ability to lower blood sugar levels.

Combined sales of Januvia and Janumet for diabetes ran about $3 billion per year for Merck in 2010.


JARDIANCE by Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly is used along with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes and also to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death. In 2017 it is not prescribed for Type 1 Diabetes. Jardiance lowers A1c levels.


Onglyza by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb was the second DPP-IV inhibitor approved for the U.S. market by the FDA in 2009.


Liraglutide is another GLP-1 analog developed by Novo Nordisk for type 2 diabetes. As of September 2008, liraglutide was in phase 3 development for a once-daily dosing schedule.

Liraglutide was then approved by the US FDA in 2010 and is marketed under the name Victoza as a once-daily GLP-1 derivative for type 2 diabetes.

Subsequently, concerns about both pancreatitis and thyroid cancer have surfaced with regard to Victoza.


See Farxiga.


Canagliflozin inhibits SGLT2, a sodium-glucose co-transporter molecule and is being developed by Johnson & Johnson.


Amylin analogues like pramlintide act like amylin to suppress glucagon by slowing the rate of gastric emptying. A1c levels may be reduced up to a full percentage point with use of this injected drug.


Trulicity (dulaglutide) is a once-weekly injectable drug to improve blood sugar in Type II Diabetes. The drug is marketed by Lilly.

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.