Exenatide: A Novel Incretin Mimetic Agent for Treating Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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Maintaining glycemic control is the primary goal for preventing macrovascular and microvascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes. Currently available antidiabetic drugs work in different ways to lower blood glucose levels; unfortunately, each of them has its tolerability and safety concerns. Exenatide is the first drug in a new class known as the incretin mimetic agents. It improves glucose control by mimicking the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1, a natural mammalian incretin hormone secreted during food intake. Exenatide was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in conjunction with metformin and/or sulfonylurea. The recommended dosage is 5 μg to 10 μg twice daily subcutaneously before breakfast and dinner. In randomized, placebo-controlled, 30-week clinical studies, exenatide improved glycemic control and promoted weight loss of up to 2.8 kg. The most common adverse effects were nausea (44%), vomiting (13%), diarrhea (13%), and hypoglycemia (5–36%). Hypoglycemia occurred in a dose-dependent fashion. Patients should be closely monitored for hypoglycemia, especially when exenatide is added to sulfonylurea therapy. Overall, exenatide provides a treatment option for patients with type 2 diabetes who fail to obtain glycemic control while on a maximum dose of metformin and/or sulfonylurea therapy. It is also an alternative therapy for those patients who cannot tolerate other antidiabetic drugs.

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