Could Your Diabetes Injection Soon Be Available in Pill Form?

two prescription bottles with pills next to them
Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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New medications used to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes are popping up left and right. From 2013-2016 there have been 15 new oral and injectable medications approved for the treatment of diabetes alone.

One new class of medications that you might have seen are GLP-1 agonists. This class includes injection drugs like Byetta, Victoza, and Trulicity to name a few.

What’s noteworthy about this class? There’s a possibility that we might see some oral GLP-1 inhibitors soon! This could mean no more painful injections.

But first, what are GLP-1 agonists?

GLP-1 agonists are considered non-insulin injections that help to improve blood sugar control and control weight in patients with type 2 diabetes. Drugs in this class work by slowing the release of food from your stomach, reducing the amount of sugar your liver releases, and controlling the amount of insulin released into your pancreas.

GLP-1 agonists work strategically to control your blood sugar and can help lower your A1C by 0.8% to 2%. The downside? GLP-1 agonists are only available as injectables.

Will we see oral treatments in the foreseeable future?

Possibly! A leader in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk, has been working on an oral GLP-1 formulation that’s comparable to the current injectable formulations.

Before the possibility of an oral GLP-1 agonist, Novo Nordisk will most likely receive approval for their once-weekly injection, semaglutide.

But have no fear, Novo Nordisk has been testing the oral form of semaglutide in patients with type 2 diabetes. There are two current clinical trials that show a lot of promise for oral GLP-1 agonists, PIONEER 2 and PIONEER 8In both of these trials, oral and injectable forms of semaglutide were related to an average drop in A1C by about 1.9%, and an approximate weight loss of at least 5% for most people.

At this point, the possibility of a once-daily oral GLP-1 agonist may soon become a reality for those with type 2 diabetes. Stay tuned!

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