by: Cherokie S. Boyd, Pharmacy Intern P1,
What a time to be a person with diabetes! These days there are more medications on the market than ever to help you control your diabetes. But how do you know which medication is right for you?
Of course you should always consult your physician or your local pharmacist for medical advice. However, here is some information about these new medications so that you don’t feel out of the loop.
Some of the current insulin medications that you are used to are Lantus, Humalog, and NovoLog. These medications deliver the hormone insulin to your blood so that insulin can tell your cells to take in more glucose. This keeps your blood sugar down.
Then there are oral medications, like Metformin and Januvia. They both work by making your liver produce glucose less often. Metformin also makes your body more sensitive to the insulin that is already made in your body, while Januvia works to help your body increase insulin production. All of that keeps your blood sugar down.
Now we have the new kids on the block. The GLP’s (glucagon-like peptides), sometimes referred to as Incretin mimics. The GLP’s that are available by brand name are Victoza and Saxenda, Byetta and Bydureon, Tanzeum, and Trulicity. These medications work in three ways.
- They increase the hormone incretin which triggers your pancreas to make its own insulin
- They inhibit the hormone glucagon which is responsible for telling your liver to make more blood glucose
- They make you feel fuller for longer by delaying gastric emptying, which helps you lose weight.
Now that last point is what has caught most people’s attention. It is true that some of these GLP’s can be used for weight loss, too. If you have type 2 diabetes, you know that losing weight is a benefit to help control blood sugar in overweight patients. These medications in particular can also affect your natural insulin production, which means you can get a lower dose of your insulin medications. It’s a win-win! But these medications are not to be used as a first line of defense against your diabetes. These medication’s main claim to fame is that they lower your A1C by 1% in most patients.
Your A1C is a blood test you get at the doctor’s office. It’s a measurement that can detect how well your blood sugar is being controlled over a period of 3 months. Usually you want this result to be somewhere under 7%. This reflects that your blood sugar is being controlled for a longer amount of time. Controlled blood sugar limits your risk for complications such as nerve pain and kidney problems.
Did I mention that these GLP medications can cost you around $700 a month? Not to worry. If these medications sound like something you want to add to your regimen don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about them. They might be on your health plans insurance formulary, or you might qualify for a prescription discount with the ScriptSave WellRx savings program. Compare it to your insurance copay. It may be cheaper!
Keeping your diabetes in control can be a struggle. Never forget the amazing impact that a diet full of vegetables can have for your body. Keep your body moving. Ample exercise each week is another natural way that you can get your prescribed insulin dose lowered.
Cherokie Dyer is a PharmD candidate of 2020 who is also pursuing a career in nutrition and holistic wellness. She founded Healthy La Vie, a wellness platform aimed to help people live healthier lives through health education, nutrition and holistic wellness tips. She’s written many articles bringing the world of medicine and nutrition together on the Healthy La Vie blog.
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