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Dr. Fernando Mariz is a Manhattan-based doctor focused on contemporary medicine. He trained in gynecology and is a specialist in preventative care, pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, and sonography. His philosophy is to establish a partnership with his patients with their goals in mind, to achieve the best possible outcomes. Dr. Mariz completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry at the Florida State University, followed by his Medical Degree at the Poznan University of Medical Sciences. He went on to do a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toledo Medical Center. In residency, Dr. Mariz took special interest in minimally invasive surgery and sonography. He taught co-residents and medical students, was awarded 'Teacher of the Year', and even honorarily inducted into the American Association for Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Obesity and other conditions that facilitate excessive weight gain are some of the most difficult ailments to manage due to the various other health issues that come with them. According to studies, the prolonged presence of these conditions can cause mental and physical strain that can negatively affect various aspects of life. In recent years medical professionals have been looking into various treatments that can help trigger weight loss in circumstances where diet, exercise, and oral treatments have failed.
One of the most effective prescription options on the market is off-label use of injectable treatments such as Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon. These options enhance the specific body processes to facilitate weight loss in a natural way that does not cause physical or mental stress. Since their primary purpose is the same, it leaves most wondering what's the difference between them.
Let's look at each of these options in greater detail to better understand their abilities and differences:
Basic Overview of Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon
Developed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Byetta is a prescription drug indicated for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. It was approved as an official diabetes treatment in 2005 and is the first medication of its kind that can successfully manage blood sugar levels without causing weight gain. Byetta is a short-acting drug that is effective soon after administration and requires regularly repeated doses for long-term treatment.
This injectable treatment contains the active ingredient exenatide, a synthetic active ingredient created to match up to a natural hormone exendin-4, found in the Gila Monster's saliva. Over the years, scientists found that this active ingredient was not only effective in treating type 2 diabetes but also promoted weight loss in diabetic individuals.
The use of the drug extended to all individuals with conditions that fuel weight gain and have found no relief from normal diet and exercise interventions. Its secondary use as a weight loss aid is backed by clinical trials that show the active component in the treatment is effective in triggering weight loss by influencing mind and body processes.
Studies show that patients who use Byetta as an independent treatment for diabetes and/or weight loss are most likely to see results in 24 weeks. In this time frame, weight loss results average between 2.7-2.9kg while blood sugar levels decrease by 0.7-0.9%.
Reduces the risk of developing health issues
Assists with appetite/craving reduction—weight loss
Lowers blood sugar levels without causing hypoglycemia
Prefilled injectable pen for efficient and accurate administration
Must be administered before meals
Side effects present at the beginning of use
Frequency of injecting might cause discomfort
Twice-daily administration can be inconvenient
Made by Nova Nordisk, Victoza is an injectable treatment created to treat type 2 diabetes. The drug was approved in 2010 to improve blood sugar levels in adults and children 10 years and older. Victoza is typically prescribed to patients who require additional support to regulate their blood sugar levels and can be used with long-acting insulin and diabetes pills. Victoza's formula was created to work synergistically with the effects of these medicines without inducing side effects.
It uses the active ingredient liraglutide to carry out its function, which has shown promise in aiding weight loss in diabetic individuals because it can safely be used in treatment plans that involve medicines that control blood sugar levels. Its fat-eliminating benefits also apply to those with weight-related medical conditions without posing a risk to users' overall health.
Victoza is a short-acting drug that works rapidly, benefiting those with pressing health conditions supported by excessive fat ratios. The treatment starts to work in as little as 2 weeks when used to manage type 2 diabetes and an average of 24-26 weeks for weight loss. With a controlled diet and exercise, liraglutide use consistently resulted in 4-6kg weight loss. These results solidify Victoza's stance as a weight loss aid.
Doses can be consumed with or without food
Reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems
Supports weight loss via appetite/calorie control
Easy-to-use prefilled injectable pen administration
Regulates blood sugar while stabilizing fluctuating hormone levels
Daily administration can be uncomfortable and inconvenient
Side effects present at the beginning of treatment
Created by Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Bydureon is an anti-diabetic treatment approved to treat/manage type 2 diabetes mellitus. The treatment gained FDA approval in 2012 and has since been on the mainstream market in over 42 countries. Like, Byetta, Bydureon uses the active ingredient exenatide to perform its primary function.
Clinically approved doses of exenatide combined with lifestyle changes (controlled diet and increased exercise) produce effects that not only stabilize blood sugar levels but also support fat elimination. Evidence showed that those using exenatide for weight loss on a short-term basis (16 weeks) with aggressive lifestyle change achieved moderate fat loss (2.5kg) and decreased waist circumference.
Bydureon is the long-acting form of exenatide, which means its effects last longer in the body. The product comes in an injectable pen which can be used on a long or short-term basis depending on patient's individual needs.
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
Naturally promotes weight loss
Once a week administration only
It can be used with or without meals
Curbs large appetite/unhealthy cravings
Easy administration—Injectable pen is dialed to a single dose for
Injection administration may not be suited for some
It may cause mild side effects at the beginning of use
Do These Treatments Each Work Differently
Despite popular belief, these treatments do not work differently. Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon are non-insulin-type drugs that belong to a class of medication called incretin mimetics. This means that they all work in the same way. Incretin mimetics are a fairly new class of antidiabetes drugs that have the innate ability to copy or enhance the function of incretin hormones such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which is why it is classified as GLP-1 agonists.
GLP-1 are gut hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream after eating to control appetite and insulin and glucagon release/secretion. By enhancing and mimicking the function of GLP-1, Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon stabilize blood sugar levels while facilitating weight loss. According to studies, the mechanism of action used by these medications largely contributes to the safety of these treatments, so much so that some options can be used in adolescents and children.
How do these Drugs Support Weight Loss?
As GLP-1 agonists, Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon encourage the release of insulin from the pancreas after meals while stopping the liver from releasing more sugar. This balances sugar levels and prevents sugar spikes and drops. According to a PubMed study, balanced blood sugar levels increase dietary restraint and decrease cravings for unhealthy foods or consumables high in sugar, which leads to noticeable weight loss. The glycemic-regulating effects of these drugs are combined with other effects that support weight loss.
We take a more detailed look at these effects below:
Delayed gastric emptying:
Delayed gastric emptying refers to a delay in how long the stomach takes to get rid of food from the body. GLP-1 agonists delay this process to help users feel fuller for longer, which leads to reduced appetites and decreases calorie intake. This results in natural weight loss.
The decreased impulse to eat:
The impulse to eat comes from brain signals which control memory, pleasure, and reward. GLP-1 agonists manipulate these brain signals into thinking the stomach has food, decreasing appetite, cravings, and unnecessary calorie consumption. The decreased intake of food then leads to weight loss.
A study on PubMed confirms the relevance of appetite in weight loss and shows that the effects of GLP-1 agonists directly impact the gastrointestinal tract and appetite. Its synergistic effect on the gut and brain facilitates weight loss in a safe and effective way, positively affecting conditions of excessive weight gain.
The combination of these effects paired with fat loss also results in reduced health risks. Data from the International Journal of Obesity showed that losing just 5-10% of overall body weight alone can significantly lower an individual's risk of stroke, kidney, or heart failure/disease. It also eliminates the possibility of cholesterol or blood pressure issues.
Dosage and Strength Explained
Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon come in different strengths, which dictate their dosing schedules and administration frequency. Below we look at the dose, strength, and frequency schedule that must be followed when taking these drugs according to their package insert:
Drug name and active ingredient
Highest dose available
(Every 7 days)
Although active ingredients, strengths, and dosing differ, these drugs are on common ground regarding dosage titration (the process of adjusting drug doses for maximum benefit without side effects). When taking any one of the drugs mentioned above for whatever reason, be it weight loss, blood sugar regulation, or both, patients are most likely to start on the lowest available dose of the specific drug. Professionals typically increase the dose over time if necessary/ until desired needs are met. The required doses of these drugs can be injected under the skin of your belly, upper arms, or thighs. It's best to inject a different body part on each administration as it helps prevent skin irritation.
Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon are all drugs administered via subcutaneous injection, which is a shot that is delivered into the fatty tissues just beneath the skin. Although this delivery method might be a bit daunting for some, it is actually effortless and painless. The needle penetrates shallower than those injected into muscle tissues, so there is no pain or discomfort is experienced. This delivery method is apt for drugs such as Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon, which need to be absorbed slowly, and steadily into the bloodstream.
Although the delivery method of these drugs is similar, the usage instructions that come with them are not. Below we look at the difference in usage guidelines between these drugs:
Byetta must be injected twice daily, at least an hour before main meals. Most patients opt to take the recommended dose an hour before breakfast and an hour before dinner. If users cannot follow meal schedules or have a busy lifestyle, the rule of thumb is to administer doses an hour before meals and at least 6 hours apart.
Victoza must be administered once daily, at any time of day. It can be administered with or without meals, and no dose adjustment is needed if patients are changing injection site and/or timing.
The recommended dose of Bydureon must be administered weekly (once every 7 days). Each dose can be administered at any time of day, with or without meals. The day of the weekly administration can be changed, if necessary, provided the last dose was taken 3 or more days before the new administration day.
When using these drugs with other non-interacting oral diabetes (type 2) medications, patients should space out the administration of all treatments. It is advised that all medicines be taken separately a couple of hours apart. Treatments should never be administered/taken simultaneously or immediately before/after each other.
Side Effects, Interactions, and Contraindications
Side effects, interactions, and contraindications are important to acknowledge before commencing any treatment. Typically, these aspects differ from medication to medication except for some classes of medication like GLP-1 agonists. This means that Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon carry the same side effects, interactions, and contraindications.
Below we list the common side effects, interactions, and contraindications associated with each of these drugs:
Common side effects
Diarrhea or constipation
Abdominal pain or flatulence
Headache, dizziness, or fatigue
Mild nausea, vomiting, or indigestion
Medication that is similar to Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon or contains the same active ingredient
Certain anti-diabetic medication
Type 1 diabetes
Severe renal impairment
Pregnancy Or breastfeeding
These treatments should not be taken by those who have/had MTC or those with family who have had/have MTC. Use must also be avoided by those with hormone-related cancer—multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN2).
The Ideal Weight Loss Choice
Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon are all effective weight loss options. They each have active ingredients supported by clinical evidence, making them safe and effective options for Type 2 Diabetes management and conditions that cause excessive weight gain. Each option has specific properties and characteristics that suit the needs of different users, making it difficult to choose an ideal weight loss option. The choice would depend on lifestyle health and condition factors thus, potential users are encouraged to look carefully at these aspects to ensure they choose a product that would help them achieve and maintain maximum results.
Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.