Clinical trial demonstrates efficacy and safety of two new drugs in patients with type 2 diabetes

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Patients with type 2 diabetes need to reduce their blood sugar levels to avoid serious complications, such as kidney failure or stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of managing diabetes. Treatment usually consists of a combination of dietary changes, exercise, and prescription medications. Some of these medications are available as tablets, whereas others must be given as injections. Exenatide and liraglutide are the names of two drugs that are given as injections. Researchers recently reported results from a clinical trial that directly compared liraglutide with exenatide in more than 900 adults with inadequately controlled type 2 diabetes. Approximately half of the patients received liraglutide once a day, and the other half received exenatide once a week. Patients in both groups experienced significant weight loss and reduced blood sugar levels after 26 weeks of treatment. Patients treated with liraglutide lost more weight and had lower blood sugar levels than those who received exenatide. However, exenatide was associated with fewer side effects, especially at the beginning of the trial. The most common side effects in both groups were nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, a similar number of patients in each group developed abnormally low blood sugar levels. This side effect was more common in patients who were simultaneously treated with other anti-diabetic medications. Overall, this study suggested that daily liraglutide and weekly exenatide are effective and safe in patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Patients should consult a physician to discuss the relative risks and benefits of each medication. This study was published in the January 2013 issue of The Lancet.