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Diabetes Medication Guide to GLP-1

Diabetes Medications: A Comprehensive Guide to GLP-1 Agonists

January 9, 2024

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It requires careful management to prevent complications and maintain optimal health. One crucial aspect of diabetes management is the use of medications that help control blood sugar levels. In recent years, a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists has gained attention for their effectiveness in managing diabetes and promoting weight loss.

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GLP-1 Receptor Agonists

GLP-1 receptor agonists, also known as incretin mimetics or GLP-1 analogs, are a class of medications used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. These medications mimic the action of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1, which is released in the gastrointestinal tract in response to eating. GLP-1 helps regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretion and inhibiting glucagon release. It also slows down gastric emptying, suppresses appetite, and promotes weight loss.

GLP-1 receptor agonists are available in various formulations, including injectable and oral options. The injectable formulations are administered via subcutaneous injections, while the oral formulation is taken as a tablet. Common GLP-1 receptor agonists include exenatide, lixisenatide, liraglutide, dulaglutide, semaglutide, and oral semaglutide.

Benefits of GLP-1 Agonists

GLP-1 receptor agonists offer several benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes. They have been shown to improve glycemic control, reduce HbA1c levels, and promote weight loss. Unlike some other antihyperglycemic drugs, GLP-1 agonists do not carry a risk of hypoglycemia. Additionally, these medications have demonstrated cardioprotective effects, making them a valuable option for patients with cardiovascular comorbidities. GLP-1 agonists have also shown favorable effects on renal outcomes, including a reduction in albuminuria.

One of the significant advantages of GLP-1 agonists is their weight loss potential. Clinical trials have consistently shown that GLP-1 agonists can lead to significant weight loss in individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity. Some studies have reported weight loss of up to 15% of initial body weight. This makes GLP-1 agonists particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with weight management.

GLP-1 Agonist Medications

Several GLP-1 agonist medications are currently available on the market. These medications differ in their dosing regimens, administration methods, and specific indications. Let's take a closer look at some of the most commonly prescribed GLP-1 agonists:

  • Exenatide

    Exenatide is a short-acting GLP-1 receptor agonist that is available in both twice-daily and extended-release once-weekly formulations. It is administered via subcutaneous injections and can be used as an adjunct to diet and exercise in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Exenatide helps improve glycemic control, reduce postprandial glucose levels, and promote weight loss.

  • Lixisenatide

    Lixisenatide is another short-acting GLP-1 receptor agonist that is administered once daily via subcutaneous injection. It is used in combination with other antihyperglycemic medications to improve glycemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Lixisenatide has been shown to reduce HbA1c levels and promote weight loss.

  • Liraglutide

    Liraglutide is a long-acting GLP-1 receptor agonist available as a once-daily injectable formulation. It is commonly prescribed for individuals with type 2 diabetes who require additional glycemic control despite other antihyperglycemic medications. Liraglutide has been shown to improve glycemic control, reduce HbA1c levels, and promote weight loss. In fact, a higher dose of liraglutide has been approved by the FDA for chronic weight management in individuals with obesity.

  • Dulaglutide

    Dulaglutide is a once-weekly injectable GLP-1 receptor agonist that is used to improve glycemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It has been shown to reduce HbA1c levels, promote weight loss, and have cardiovascular benefits. Dulaglutide is well-tolerated and has a favorable side effect profile.

  • Semaglutide

    Semaglutide is available in both once-weekly injectable and once-daily oral formulations. It is used to improve glycemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes and promote weight loss. Semaglutide has shown superior efficacy in reducing HbA1c levels and promoting weight loss compared to other GLP-1 agonists. It has also demonstrated cardiovascular benefits and renal protection.

Choosing the Right GLP-1 Agonist

The choice of GLP-1 agonist medication depends on various factors, including individual patient characteristics, preferences, and specific treatment goals. Factors to consider include the dosing regimen (once-weekly vs. once-daily), administration method (injection vs. oral), cardiovascular benefits, weight loss potential, and overall tolerability. Your healthcare provider can help determine the most suitable GLP-1 agonist for your individual needs.

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Conclusion

GLP-1 receptor agonists are a valuable class of medications for individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity. These medications offer benefits beyond glycemic control, including weight loss, cardiovascular protection, and renal benefits. By mimicking the action of GLP-1, GLP-1 agonists help regulate blood sugar levels, suppress appetite, and promote weight loss. If you have diabetes and are struggling to achieve optimal glycemic control or manage your weight, GLP-1 agonists may be a suitable option for you. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment approach and explore options for accessing these medications.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting or changing any medication regimen.

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