Once-weekly versions of a popular class of type 2 diabetes drugs carry a similar risk-benefit profile as daily-dose versions of drugs in the same class, a new study has found.
The study involved type 2 diabetes drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP1 agonists. The drugs are designed to improve blood sugar control, but also carry the attractive side effect of weight loss. Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for type 2 diabetes. All are administered by injection.
GLP1 agonists include the brand names Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide), which are administered once or twice daily; and Tanzemum (albiglutide), Trulicity (dulaglutide), and Bydureon (exenatide), which are taken once a week.
The study, conducted by the Diabetes Researcher Center at Leicester General Hospital in the U.K., involved the analysis of data from 34 clinical trials that included a total of 21,126 diabetic patients taking one of five GLP1 agonists. Researchers found that the differences in safety and efficacy were small between the once-weekly drugs and the daily ones. Short-term side effects included nausea and increased heart rate.
Researchers said to gain a better understanding between the once-daily and once-weekly versions of GLP1 agonists for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, studies should be done pitting the drugs against each other.
The study also did not focus on side effects associated with these drugs. GLP1 agonists, in particular Byetta, Bydureon and Victoza, have been linked to a painful inflammation of the pancreas called acute pancreatitis. The drugs have also been associated with cancer risks including pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.