Byetta….Approved for Another Use? Really?

Byetta (exenatide) is an injectable medication for use in type 2 diabetes that may help with blood glucose control when used in combination with diet and exercise.  It is not insulin. 

The reason I was so surprised to see this article expanding Byetta’s useage is because the last we heard anything about Byetta, it was being implicated regarding two major problems: its potential to cause pancreatitis (including pancreatitis fatalities)  AND the possibility that its use might be linked to thyroid cancer.

Now…a shining announcement that it has another use… Today I read the article about the EU giving approval for the use of the diabetes drug Byetta in addition to basal insulin…with or without the drugs Metformin and/or Actos as a means to lower hemoglobin A1C.

If a patient didn’t know better, it sounds as if the use of Byetta in addition to an arsenal of other diabetes drugs might “the answer” to finally decrease hemoglobin A1C in patients with “hard to control diabetes.”.  Sheesh…the patient may already be taking insulin and two oral agents…time to add another medication, right?  Not so fast.

Although this patient may be taking baseline insulin, Metformin, and Actos..chances are he/she NEVER LEARNED an effective diet/lifestyle program.  Medication after medication is added, but the base treatment may be wrong.

Once you realize that basal insulin, Metformin, and Actos are not primarily designed to lower blood sugar elevations after  meals, you realize that “something” must be done to minimize those post meal blood sugar spikes because it’s most likely these post meal blood sugar spikes are causing the elevated A1C.  Hmmmmm….

But should the next step be the addition of Byetta?  Is this patient really doing what should be done to get his post meal blood sugar readings under control?  Wait a minute!  The ad for Byetta says….”in addition to diet and exercise.” But what if the diet program the person was taught to improve his blood sugar never did its job?  Could this be the problem?  Could this be the reason he needs more and more medication?

One of the most disconcerting parts to this medication mayhem is that the 55% carbohydrate diet supported by the AMA and ADA does not work to lower fasting or post prandial blood sugar.  Just wondering why a potentially high risk medication would be prescribed to a patient who has not yet explored the possibility of easy to understand/follow lifestyle changes that can accomplish the same end result with no cost or potentially harmful side effects.  Lifestyle….it comes down to the right lifestyle to stop the progression of type 2 diabetes.

But more on that later:

Let’s learn about this drug; Byetta

                                                            Risk vs Benefit?

Benefits according to the pharmaceutical company:
According to the Byetta website, the injection works to:
1. Signal the pancreas to make more insulin after eating
2. Stop the liver from releasing sugar between meals
3. May reduce appetite (not directly related)
4. Delays stomach emptying, slows down food passing out of the stomach

Exploring these “benefits” of Byetta:
1. The injection will make an already tiring pancreas work even harder by pressing it to release even more insulin after meals. Eventually, the beta cells fatigue and a person with type 2 diabetes becomes insulin requiring…forever.
2. If a person eats regularly (keeps gaps between meals/snacks to less than 5 hours), he/she won’t require a medication to suppress liver glycogen release.
3 and 4. The reduction in appetite has been attributed to nausea caused by delayed stomach emptying. Food sits longer in the stomach before being digested/metabolized which can cause nausea/vomiting.

Potential Risks of Using Byetta…from Byetta’s website:

                     Important Safety Information for BYETTA® (exenatide) injection

Serious side effects can happen in people who take BYETTA, including inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) which may be severe and lead to death.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have had pancreatitis, stones in your gallbladder (gallstones), a history of alcoholism, or high blood triglyceride levels.

BYETTA should not be used in people who have severe kidney problems and should be used with caution in people who have had a kidney transplant. BYETTA may cause new or worse problems with kidney function, including kidney failure.

Before you use BYETTA, tell your healthcare provider if you have severe problems with your stomach, such as delayed emptying of your stomach (gastroparesis) or problems with digesting food.

The most common side effects with BYETTA include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling jittery, dizziness, headache, acid stomach, constipation, and weakness. Nausea most commonly happens when first starting BYETTA, but may become less over time.

                                                        Thyroid Cancer risk?
“Alarm bells were raised after Curtis Rosebraugh, head of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Drug Evaluation II, said in a memo posted to the agency’s website that there were similarities in data on intravenous dosing and the extended-release form of Byetta (exenetide) with that from rodent studies of Novo Nordisk’s long-acting Victoza (liraglutide), in which some of the animals developed thyroid cancers.
A Lilly spokeswoman indicated a relationship between Byetta and human thyroid cancer hasn’t been established, but can’t be ruled out, and added that a statistically significant increase in thyroid cancers was seen in female rats given doses 25 times greater than people take.”

Lots of risk.. questionable benefits. Solution?

Before adding another medication to your “drug arsenal” , consider as little as 8 weeks on a lifestyle program that is designed expressly for the metabolism of those with type 2 diabetes.  The Diabetes Miracle is proven, scientifically based, and will begin to show blood sugar results within the first week.   The program rests the pancreas and liver, spaces food to diminish liver release, and cuts appetite by alleviating carb cravings. Side effects are all positive! Improved blood sugar, LESS medication, decreased weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure.

And…no black box warning!

 If you are diagnosed with pre diabetes, type 2 diabetes or you have had type 2 for many years…it is in your best interest to gain the latest knowledge on how to self-manage with chronic potentially debilitating disease.  The answer is not to add more and more costly and potentially dangerous medications…the answer is to get back to type 2’s root problems and solve them at the root cause…

Take the time to visit  Change your life, change your health.


About Diane Kress

Author of The New York Times Bestseller; The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, and The Diabetes Miracle. and The Metabolism Miracle, Revised Edition. Owner, developer, and administrator of The Metabolism Miracle's support site: Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Email:
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2 Responses to Byetta….Approved for Another Use? Really?

  1. Carol J says:

    Can you tell me if taking Byetta injections while starting the metabolism miracle diet will be detrimental to my success and/or my weight/fat loss? I have never been diabetic and was prescribed the drug when I was 60 lbs overweight because the doctor said I was pre-diabetic. I used a popular diet plan along with exercise to lose the 60 lbs over the past three years, but now I am having a hard time maintaining my 60 lb weight loss and want to try the metabolism miracle diet, but don’t want to continue the Byetta injections if it is going to sabotage my success. I also no longer see the dr who originally prescribed the Byetta (it’s a long story), and once my remaining prescription expires (in September), I do not plan to continue with the injections or the dr who prescribed them. But I could discontinue the Byetta now if it would be better for me with regard to the low carb diet (Metabolism Miracle). I read your book this weekend and am starting your Step One plan tomorrow. Thank you for any information you can share as to my Byetta dilemma. I don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize my health.

    • Diane Kress says:

      The Metabolism Miracle/Diabetes Miracle programs will help you to lose fat, improve blood sugar, improve cholesterol/triglycerides/blood pressure…as well as improve overall quality of life. You should be testing your blood sugar daily….I recommed fasting and 2 hours after meals. Byetta will not slow your progress in any way. It is not my favorite choice of medications. You can use it until you start with another MD as you should never go off a medication without a physican’s approval. Maybe your new MD will go with another medication…or perhaps you won’t need medication by then! Diane

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