Dulaglutide, an experimental once-weekly injectable treatment for type 2 diabetes, works just as well as the daily injectable drug Victoza (liraglutide), according to a new data from a clinical trial pitting the two diabetes drugs against each other. Even though dulaglutide did not perform better than Victoza, the results are considered a huge success since injectable medications are generally not favored by patients.
Previous clinical trials have compared dulaglutide with the insulin drug metformin, and newer type 2 medications Byetta and Januvia, the latter of which is a leader in diabetes treatments with sales topping $4 billion a year. Dulaglutide was found to perform better than all three drugs, plus patients using the medication also lost twice as much weight as those using Januvia.
Dulaglutide is in a class of diabetes drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs work by increasing the release of insulin after meals and by slowing absorption of food in the gastrointestinal tract. Victoza is also a GLP-1 drug. Januvia is in a similar class known as DDP-4 inhibitors. Both GLP-1 and DDP-4 drugs are classified as incretin mimetics.
The most commonly reported side effects with dulaglutide were nausea, headaches and vomiting. However, at least two people using dulaglutide in clinical trials were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Though the drug company and researchers said the cases were likely unrelated to use of the drug, other incretin mimetics including Byetta and Januvia have been associated with acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.