Good News: New Oral Drug for Type 2 Diabetes

Pills in a row

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first oral drug for Type 2 diabetes. The new pill, called Rybelsus (semaglutide), lowers blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes. It is the first pill in a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1).

How it Works

People with type 2 diabetes often have a low level of the hormone GLP-1. Rybelsus acts by slowing digestion and preventing the liver from making too much sugar. This helps the pancreas produce more insulin. In clinical trials, Rybelsus significantly lowered blood sugar.

After 26 weeks, 77% of patients taking 14 mg of Rybelsus daily saw their HbA1C drop below 7%. This was compared with 31% among those receiving a placebo. HbA1C is a measure of blood sugar.

Bagsvaerd, a Denmark-based drugmaker, produces this diabetes oral drug . The company marketed an injected form of semaglutide, Ozempic, since December 2017. This is the first diabetes drug that does not need to be injected.

Potential Side Effects

Rybelsus is also not for people with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. Doctors do not recommended Rybelsus as a first-line treatment.

The drug has potential risks. It may cause certain thyroid tumors. Patients who have had thyroid cancer or have a relative who did should not take Rybelsus.

The drug label also warns about inflammation of the pancreas, vision loss, low blood sugar and kidney injury. The most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, indigestion and constipation.

As a side note, the manufacturers said that Rybelsus reduced levels of A1C and also body weight among patients.


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