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BACKGROUND: It is estimated that 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the US population have diabetes, which contributes to considerable medical and financial burden. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is characterized by insulin resistance and insulin secretion impairment leading to hyperglycemia. The presence of insulin resistance is strongly correlated with obesity.
OBJECTIVE: This article reviews the available glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists and their role in the management of patients with diabetes, to help guide the selection of the most suitable agent for the individualized treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes.
DISCUSSION: This article reviews the evidence from phase 3 clinical trials for each of the 5 GLP-1 receptor agonists by comparing them against one another and with other existing therapies, including metformin, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, and sulfonylureas. Incretin-based therapies have emerged as attractive agents for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They target the GLP-1 hormone, which is partly responsible for insulin release and for attenuating hyperglycemia during meals (ie, the incretin effect). The 2 classes of incretin-based therapy currently available are GLP-1 receptor agonists and DPP-4 inhibitors, which prevent the breakdown of GLP-1. Both classes are attractive options, given their glucose-lowering effects without the adverse effects of hypoglycemia and weight gain. The different mechanisms of action of these therapies result in generally greater efficacy with GLP-1 receptor agonists, albeit at the expense of slightly increased gastrointestinal symptoms. These agents exert their effects by improving glucose-dependent insulin release, suppressing glucagon release, suppressing hepatic glucose output, and decreasing the rate of gastric emptying, thereby reducing appetite. Currently, 5 GLP-1 receptor agonists are available, including exenatide, liraglutide, albiglutide, dulaglutide, and lixisenatide; semaglutide may soon become available as the newest agent. With the exception of the investigational oral semaglutide, which has shown promising results, the other 5 agents are administered as subcutaneous injections, at different dosing intervals.
CONCLUSION: Currently, 5 GLP-1 receptor agonists are available for use in the United States. Although they are all in the same drug class, some significant differences exist among the various GLP-1 receptor agonists. The choice of a specific GLP-1 receptor agonist will depend on the patient preferences, potential adverse effects, and cost.
Tran, K. L., Park, Y. I., Pandya, S., Muliyil, N. J., Jensen, B. D., Huynh, K., & Nguyen, Q. T. (2017). Overview of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes. American Health & Drug Benefits, 10(4), 178-188.
Originally published in American Health & Drug Benefits, 10(4), 178-188. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. Access on Touro Scholar restricted to Touro-affiliated users only. The original material can be found here.