The FDA recently approved a new PEN form of diabetes injection Bydureon (exenatide), which is gaining popularity and causing mix-ups at the pharmacy.
The existing Bydureon vial and the new pen contain the same medication, but the two forms are not interchangeable—your pharmacist will need to fill the form your doctor has prescribed.
What is Bydureon?
Bydureon is a non-insulin injection used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, along with proper diet and exercise. It is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that helps your pancreas release insulin only when needed and signals to your brain when you are full, which can decrease the amount of food you eat.
Are there any other medications similar to Bydureon?
Yes. Byetta (exenatide) has the same active ingredient as Bydureon, but it is regular release rather than extended-release. This means Byetta requires twice-daily injections while Bydureon is used once weekly. Byetta is available in a 5 mcg and 10 mcg pen only. Since Bydureon is used only once per week, it tends to be better for compliance; patients are more likely to continue to take it as prescribed.
Are there any advantages to sticking with the Bydureon vial?
The vial may be the best option for you if you are familiar with drawing up insulin from a vial into a syringe then injecting it.
Keep in mind though: unlike an insulin vial which is just drawn into a syringe then injected, the Bydureon vial requires some additional steps.
What are the advantages to using the new pen?
The pen requires less dexterity than the vial—some patients may find it difficult to draw the medication from the vial into a syringe and then inject it. This process can be tedious since, as mentioned above, the Bydureon vial requires a more elaborate process than just drawing the medication into a syringe.
The Bydureon pen is also easier to use and may be less trouble than the vial. The pen is a pre-filled, single-use injector which means you won’t need to manually mix the medication.
Is there a difference in cost between the two forms?
Not in most cases, though you should always shop around or check with your insurance beforehand to be sure. Four pens or four vials both cost about $450 – $550 if you’re paying cash or have a discount.