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Byetta vs Bydureon: What’s the Difference?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on July 28, 2014 at 9:25 am

Byetta (exenatide) and Bydureon (exenatide) for type 2 diabetes can be confusing—they have similar names, and both are injected rather than taken orally. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to each, and they are available in different strengths, and have different directions for use.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, occurs when the body does not use the insulin it makes properly. Symptoms may include frequent urination, increased thirst or hunger, tiredness, slow healing, trouble seeing, and darkened skin in the armpits and neck.

In what forms are Byetta and Bydureon available?
Byetta is available as a prefilled pen that delivers either 5 mcg or 10 mcg of exenatide per dose (each pen contains 60 doses).

Bydureon is is available as a kit containing a vial of exenatide and delivery system. Bydureon kits contain 2 mg per dose, and are only used once.

Do these medications require injections?

Yes. Both Byetta and Bydureon are injectable medications.

What types of medication are Byetta and Bydureon?

With the same active ingredient, exenatide, both Byetta and Bydureon are considered GLP-1 receptor agonists.

GLP-1 receptor agonists work by helping your pancreas release insulin only when needed, and may decrease the amount of food you eat by signaling to your brain when you are full.

See a detailed explanation of how Byetta works here and how Bydureon works here.

Advantages of using Bydureon:

  • Compliance, or how likely you are to take your prescription! Bydureon is a once-weekly injection, where Byetta must be injected twice daily. The once-weekly dose of Bydureon cuts down on the amount of injections and may increase the likelihood that you’ll be willing and able to take it as directed.

Disadvantages of using Bydureon:

  • Side effects. Bydureon has been known to cause a bump at the injection site more often than Byetta.
  • Cost. Although it can potentially be less expensive than Byetta, one month of Bydureon with a discount or coupon may still costs as much as $435 – $488.
  • Ease of use. Bydureon needs to be mixed before injection, while Byetta comes in a ready-to-use prefilled pen. However, this could change later this year—a prefilled Bydureon pen has been approved and should be available later in 2014.

Advantages of using Byetta:

  • Ease of use. Byetta is currently available in a prefilled pen which may be easier to use. At the moment, using Bydureon is more complicated and requires several steps. Watch for a prefilled Bydureon pen to become available later this year.

Disadvantages of using Byetta:

  • Side effects. Byetta has a greater chance of nausea and upset stomach compared to Bydureon. However, nausea should subside after a few weeks of using Byetta.
  • Compliance and frequency. Twice-daily Byetta may not be as convenient, as easy to remember (or as desirable) as once-weekly Bydureon.
  • Cost. One month of Byetta with a discount or coupon may cost around $456 – $474—more than the newer once-weekly Bydureon.

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