Today we have the biggest diabetes drug news in 90 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved Bydureon, extended release exenatide.
Now people with type 2 diabetes can take just one shot a week. This single weekly injection will help millions of us manage our diabetes better.
We already know that Bydureon has a significant side effect. Weight loss.
We know that because Bydureon is the extended release version of Byetta, which millions of people have already successfully used to manage their diabetes and reduce their weight. I was one of them.
I used Byetta from February 6, 2006 until December 5, 2007. That’s 22 months.
When I started my twice-daily injections of Byetta my A1C was already pretty good, 6.2. But I was able to reduce my level to 5.3 before I stopped taking it.
That alone would have been enough to make me happy. But what Byetta did to my weight changed my life. The day that I started taking it I weighed 312 pounds and my waist was 58 inches. Twenty-two months later my weight was down to 168 pounds. Unfortunately, I can’t find what my waist measurement was at that time.
Taking Byetta was one of the best things I ever did for myself. Then why did I stop?
Simply because I wanted to see if I could manage my diabetes without any drugs. That way, I knew, was a very low-carb diet. Subsequently, I have been able to knock off another 10 pounds or so and now have a waist of 32 inches. My most recent A1C level was 5.2.
I am no outlier. For my book, Losing Weight with Your Diabetes Medication: How Byetta and Other Drugs Can Help You Lose More Weight than You Ever Thought Possible, I interviewed dozens of people who have similar stories to tell. I reported on many of those success stories in the book.
Byetta isn't perfect. No drug is. One of the problems with Byetta is that we take two shots a day. But we generally eat three meals a day. That means one of our meals, usually lunch, doesn't have the benefit of Byetta coverage. So our blood glucose levels tend to go up then.
Not so with Byedureon, since the shot covers all of our meals for a week. About 21 of them.Of course, after Byetta came on the market another drug in the same class (GLP-1 receptor agonists) became available. Victoza is an excellent drug and it does provide better coverage than Byetta. Its coverage is one day, i.e. one shot per day.
That can’t compare with the convenience of Bydureon. One shot per week.
I am excited about Bydureon’s approval, as you may have guessed if you have read this far. I have waited for this day for about a decade, since when I read on the website of the company that makes Bydureon and Byetta, a company called Amylin Pharmaceutics, that they were working on it.
Disclosure: Years ago I put my money where my mouth was and bought in 100 shares of Amylin Pharmaceuticals. I don’t watch the stock market much, but I think that my investment is what investors gently call “under water” now. I expect it to become dry very soon.
Amylin says that Bydureon will be available in pharmacies in the coming month. At that time people with type 2 diabetes will have the opportunity to use a diabetes medication second only in importance to the first one we got 90 years ago, insulin.
That wonderful discovery saved many lives. I expect that Bydureon, while not as dramatic as insulin, will also go down in history as one of the greatest events of 2012.