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Licence granted for new drug

A new class of drug to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels has been granted a licence for use in Europe.

Byetta (Exenatide) is to be produced by pharmaceutical company, Lilly but will not be available until at least next spring.

Byetta (Exenatide) mimics a hormone found in the Gila lizard, pictured above. It is the first type of medication in a new class of drugs called 'incretin mimetics.' It works in three different ways:

  1. It helps the body to produce more insulin when it is needed.
  2. It reduces the amount of glucose being produced by the liver when it is not needed.
  3. It reduces the rate at which the stomach digests foods and empties. This means that the rate at which glucose from food is released into the blood is reduced.

“New treatments provide more options to ensure the most effective management of diabetes for everyone," said Zoe Harrison, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

“Managing blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fats is central to reducing the risk of heart attacks, blindness, strokes, kidney disease and amputations.”

Although it is injected, Byetta is not an insulin. It must be injected twice daily and has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels and may also help weight management. It is used in combination with metformin, and/or sulphonylurea tablets. 

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