UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U

Clinical Updates


Clinical Updates


New classes of drugs offer options in type II diabetes


Two new classes of drugs provide valuable tools for physicians and their patients with type II diabetes who may be struggling with other medications to achieve stable blood-sugar levels.

Once-a-day pills help control glucose levels

The first new drug class, DPP-4 inhibitors, includes two new drugs, Januvia® and Galvus®, which are administered by pill and in most cases eliminate the need for insulin injections. They inhibit dipeptidyl peptidase IV, or DPP-4, which is responsible for breaking down proteins that stimulate insulin-producing cells after a meal. By inhibiting DPP-4, the proteins can release insulin for a longer period of time, promoting glucose stability and lowering glucose levels in the blood.

Side effects associated with Januvia include:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Stuffy or runny nose and sore throat
  • Headache

Side effects associated with Galvus include:

  • Hypoglycemia, or excessively low blood sugar
  • Fluid retention

Injectable drug results in weight loss in some patients

A third drug, Byetta®, is administered by injection twice a day — about an hour before morning and evening meals — and improves blood-sugar control by lowering both post-meal and fasting glucose levels. It is the first of a new class of drugs known as incretin mimetics, and mimics many of the actions of GLP-1, a naturally occurring peptide that augments insulin secretion after meals, to help patients avoid inappropriately high insulin levels.

Studies have indicated that patients taking Byetta lose an average of 20 pounds because the drug suppresses appetite. Side effects associated with Byetta include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jittery sensation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dyspepsia

New drugs appear to be safe for patients

While all three drugs have been subjected to standard clinical study and appear to be safe, UCLA diabetes experts advise caution as no long-term data is yet available. The medications are available through UCLA’s Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center, which provides both primary and consultative diabetes care.

Program leader

Andrew Drexler, M.D.
Director, UCLA’s Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center
Co-chief, Division of Clinical Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension
Clinical Professor of Medicine


For information on the Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center or to make an appointment, call (310) 825-7922. 


Add a comment

Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions through the comments feature below. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you!

comments powered by Disqus