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New treatment for Type 2 diabetes

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has this week announced a preliminary recommendation to make a once-weekly injectable exenatide (Bydureon) available on the NHS for some people with Type 2 diabetes.

What is exenatide?

Although exenatide is injected, it is not insulin and works in three ways: to help the body to produce more insulin when it is needed; reduce the amount of glucose being produced by the liver when it is not needed; and by reducing the rate at which glucose from food is released into the blood.

The NICE guidance recommends the treatment be used in conjunction with other diabetes treatments – metformin and a sulphonylurea, or metformin and a thiazolidinedione.

Exenatide is recommended for people with Type 2 diabetes whose blood glucose levels are not well controlled and have other risk factors, including a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or above. It can be used in patients with a BMI below 35 if treatment with insulin has presented problems. NICE recommends the treatment should only be continued if tests show it is having a beneficial effect after six months.

Widening the choice of treatment options for people with Type 2 diabetes

"We feel strongly that a weekly injectable exenatide will widen the treatment options for people with Type 2 diabetes who may be struggling to achieve good diabetes control. For people who are currently using exenatide, a twice daily injection, the possibility of being able to administer this treatment once a week could hugely improve their quality of life," said Cathy Moulton, Diabetes UK Clinical Advisor.

Decision may change

"It is important to note that NICE has not yet issued final guidance to the NHS, so this decision may change after consultation. Final guidance is likely to be published in February, and until then local NHS organisations will have to make their own decisions about funding this treatment," she added.

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