People who are living with diabetes know that you can be tethered to your medicine. However, recent studies have shown that there is actually little difference between medications taken every day and those taken once a week. There are some small differences in side effects, but there isn't much else to compare in terms of differences.
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While there had been some studies done on the drugs, which are known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists - or GLP-1RAs - and they have found that the medications allow users to keep their blood sugar under control and reduce their body weights. However, there hadn't been a study directly comparing to different versions.
"The main message is that today several drugs are available for the control of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, as never before," said Dr. Francesco Zaccardi, of the Diabetes Research Center at Leicester General Hospital in the U.K., "Therefore, it is even more important to know differences and similarities among drugs."
Those suffering with type 2 diabetes cannot make enough insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.
The drugs that were compared were three that are already on the market and two that are in development and all are taken only once a week. They stimulate insulin and help improve the speed of digestion.
According to Fox News, the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes currently recommend GLP-1RAs as an option for people with type 2 diabetes who haven't responded to other treatment.
For this new study, Zaccardi and his colleagues analyzed the data from 34 different trials that included a total of 21,126 participants taking one of the five GLP-1RAs.
They found that the drugs did reduce blood sugar and also helped with heart disease risk factors like cholesterol, high blood pressure, and inflammation. Similar risk for developing blood sugar lows known as hypoglycemia was also found.
There were some differences when it came time to measure HbA1c, a measure of average blood sugar levels, and the ability to reduce weight.
Dulagutide 1.5 mg, sold as Trulicity, exenatide, sold as Byetta, taspoglutide 20 mg, which is in development all performed better in relation to those points than albiglutide, sold as Tanzeum and two other medications in development.
However, those differences were quite small.
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"The weight loss is instructive because a lot of people hear stories of people losing a lot of weight, but the mean weight loss is modest," said Dr. Sethu Reddy, chief of the Adult Diabetes Section at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.