Victoza and Byetta act like Glucagon-like Peptide 1 (GLP-1), a small hormone that does three things: (1) helps your pancreas secrete more insulin during meals, (2) makes your pancreas secrete less glucagon after meals, (3) suppresses your appetite.
The new diabetes shots should only be used if you have tried (and failed) Glucophage (metformin). That is…if your type 2 diabetes has progressed far enough to require insulin (Lantus, Levemir, Apidra, Humulin, Humalog) injections or drugs like Diabeta (glyburide), Victoza and Byetta are alternatives that might cause less weight gain and less episodes of very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
In fact, Victoza or Byetta may help you lose weight, which, of course, may reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke. (Note: the only diabetes drug proven to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke is metformin!). So, if you’re overweight, Victoza or Byetta may be better options than drugs like Januvia or Actos, too!
If you feel that Victoza or Byetta are options for you, you should know a bit about their differences before you see your doctor.
Victoza vs Byetta – Side Effects
Victoza is better than Byetta. Many patients are forced to stop Byetta because they cannot tolerate it’s side effects (mainly nausea). Rarely, Byetta may worsen kidney function or cause pancreatitis. Both Victoza & Byetta cause thyroid tumors in rats.
Victoza vs Byetta – Cost & Blood Sugar Control
Byetta (~$150/month) is cheaper than Victoza (~240/month). If cost is a significant concern, consider using insulin instead. Insulin is 2-5 times cheaper than Victoza or Byetta.
Victoza lowers A1c slightly better than Byetta. But, if your A1c is close to or lower than 8%, Byetta may do a better job. Why? Byetta lowers postprandial blood sugar (your blood sugar 1-2 hours after a meal) better than Victoza. Lowering postprandial blood sugar is especially effective for lowering A1C that is close to normal.
Major Advantages of Victoza & Byetta
- You need to inject Victoza once daily; patients taking Byetta require two injections every day.
- Victoza lowers fasting blood sugar better; Byetta lowers postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar better.
- Victoza and Byetta do not cause weight gain and they cause less episodes of hypoglycemia than insulin. Insulin, when used properly, will likely provide better control of blood sugar, though.