Generic Name: exenatide, Injectable Solution

Generic Name:

exenatide, Injectable Solution

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SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for exenatide

Injectable Solution
1

Exenatide is an injectable solution. It’s available in prefilled injectable pens.

2

Exenatide is used to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. It’s used along with diet and exercise.

3

You inject exenatide under your skin (subcutaneously) in the following areas: stomach, thigh, or outer upper arm.

4

The standard starting dose for adults is 5 mcg injected two times per day within 60 minutes before the two main meals of the day.

5

Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling jittery, dizziness, headache, upset stomach, constipation, and weakness. Nausea often happens when you first start exenatide, but it may go away with time.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Swelling of your pancreas warning

Exenatide may increase your risk of swelling of your pancreas (pancreatitis). You should be carefully monitored for signs and symptoms of pancreatitis. Symptoms include:

  • persistent severe stomach pain that sometimes goes to your back
  • vomiting

If you have these symptoms, stop taking exenatide and call your doctor. If you have pancreatitis, don’t start taking exenatide again. You should consider other diabetic medicines if you have a history of pancreatitis.

Kidney problems warning

Exenatide may make your kidney function worse. This may be more likely to happen if you experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that won’t go away as a side effect of the drug.

If you have moderate kidney dysfunction or have had a kidney transplant, watch for symptoms of kidney dysfunction when you start taking exenatide or when your doses are increased. Symptoms include:

  • Decrease in how much urine you produce
  • Losing your appetite
  • Swelling in your feet and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting that won’t go away
  • Pain in your back underneath your rib cage

If you have these symptoms, stop taking exenatide and contact your doctor. If you have serious kidney problems, don’t use this drug.

Stomach disease warning

Don’t take exenatide if you have serious stomach or intestinal disease, such as slowed emptying of your stomach caused by nerve damage (gastroparesis). Exenatide slows stomach emptying and can cause side effects in the stomach and intestines, which can make your condition worse.

Drug Features

Exenatide is a prescription drug. It’s available as a self-injectable prefilled pen.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you may need to take it with other drugs.

Why It's Used

Exenatide is an injectable medicine that may improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. It should be used with diet and exercise.

More Details

How It Works

Exenatide belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 receptor agonists) or incretin mimetics.

More Details

Why It's Used

Exenatide is an injectable medicine that may improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. It should be used with diet and exercise.

  • Exenatide isn’t insulin and shouldn’t be used instead of insulin.
  • Exenatide shouldn’t be used if you have type 1 diabetes or if you have diabetic ketoacidosis. It won’t be effective in decreasing your blood sugar when your pancreas can’t make insulin.

How It Works

Exenatide belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 receptor agonists) or incretin mimetics. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions. 

Exenatide helps to increase the amount of insulin and decrease the amount of glucagon (which stops your body from releasing insulin) your body releases. It also slows the emptying of your stomach. All of these actions together help improve your blood sugar levels.

SECTION 2 of 4

exenatide Side Effects

Injectable Solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with exenatide include:

  • nausea. This usually happens when you first start exenatide, but may decrease over time.

  • vomiting

  • decreased appetite

  • diarrhea

  • headache

  • upset stomach

  • constipation

  • feeling jittery

  • dizziness

  • weakness

  • slowed emptying of the stomach (long feeling of fullness)

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

    • trouble breathing, such as shortness of breath
    • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • swelling of your pancreas (pancreatitis). Symptoms may include:

    • severe stomach pain that won’t go away, with or without vomiting
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that won’t go away

  • kidney problems. Symptoms may include:

    • decrease in how much urine you produce
    • losing your appetite
    • swelling in your feet and legs
    • nausea and vomiting that won’t go away
    • pain in your back underneath your rib cage
  • reistance to exenatide. Your body may develop antibodies to exenatide, which may cause the drug to stop working.

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Exenatide doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Exenatide causes stomach-related side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

exenatide May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable Solution

Exenatide can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Food Interactions

When you’re taking exenatide your appetite may decrease.

Alcohol Interaction

  • Alcohol can cause variable effects on blood sugar control.
  • It can decrease glucose production and increase the risk of lowering your blood sugar too much.
  • Alcohol provides additional calories. If you drink alcohol while using exenatide, your blood sugar should be closely monitored.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Other medicines for diabetes
  • oral sulfonylureas
    • glyburide
    • glipizide
  • glitinides
    • repaglinide
    • nateglinide
  • insulin detemir
  • insulin glargine

Using exenatide with these drugs can lower your blood sugar too much, causing hypoglycemia. Doses of these medicines should be decreased if you take them with exenatide.

Birth control pills (oral contraceptives)

Taking exenatide with these drugs can make these drugs not work as well. Exenatide slows emptying of the stomach. This could delay or change the amount of medicine being absorbed, which means that these medicines may not work. 

Take these medicines at least 1 hour before exenatide is injected. If you have to take oral medicines with food, take them with a meal or snack when you aren’t injecting exenatide.

Oral antibiotics

Taking exenatide with these drugs can make these drugs not work as well. Exenatide slows emptying of the stomach. This could delay or change the amount of medicine being absorbed, which means that these medicines may not work.

Take these medicines at least 1 hour before exenatide is injected. If you have to take oral medicines with food, take them with a meal or snack when you aren’t injecting exenatide.

Blood thinner
  • warfarin

Taking exenatide with warfarin can cause increased bleeding. Your doctor may monitor your bleeding tests more closely while you’re taking exenatide.

Medicines for the heart
  • digoxin

Exenatide may change how this drug works in your body. Your blood levels may need to be checked to see if there is enough medicine in the body to work.

Take this medicine at least 1 hour before exenatide is injected. If you have to take oral medicines with food, take them with a meal or snack when you aren’t injecting exenatide.

Medicines to treat low function of the thyroid
  • levothyroxine

Exenatide may change how this drug works in your body. Your blood levels may need to be checked to see if there is enough medicine in the body to work. 

Take this medicine at least 1 hour before exenatide is injected. If you have to take oral medicines with food, take them with a meal or snack when you aren’t injecting exenatide.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with pancreatitis

If you have pancreatitis, you can’t take exenatide. Exenatide affects the function of your pancreas. If you’ve had pancreatitis in the past, you’re more likely to have it again if you take exenatide.

People with kidney disease

If exenatide makes you very nauseous, or causes severe vomiting or diarrhea, it could lead to kidney problems. If you already have kidney disease, stay on the lowest dose of exenatide. If you have serious kidney disease, don’t use exenatide.

People with stomach or intestinal disease

Exenatide causes the emptying of your stomach to slow. If you have stomach or intestinal diseases, such as gastroparesis, which also cause the emptying of your stomach to slow, taking exenatide can worsen these conditions.

Pregnant women

Exenatide is a pregnancy category C drug. That means two things: 

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Exenatide should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

It isn’t known if exenatide passes through breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take exenatide or breastfeed.

For Seniors

Seniors often have decreased kidney function. Your doctor may monitor you more closely before increasing your dose of exenatide.

For Children

The safety and effectiveness of exenatide haven’t been established in people younger than 18 years old.

Special Kid Safety:

  • Keep your exenatide pen, pen needles, and all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Syringes and needles are used to inject exenatide. Accidental needle sticks can spread infection or cause bleeding.
  • Don’t throw away the pen with a needle attached in the garbage.
  • Place used needles in a closeable, puncture-resistant container. You may use a hard plastic container (detergent bottle) or a metal container (empty coffee can) to throw away your needles. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions on the right way to throw away your used pens and the container. There may be state and local laws stating how you should throw away your used pens and needles.
  • Don’t throw needles in the trash. If you must throw the container into the trash, label it “don’t recycle”.
  • Always keep the disposal container out of reach of children.

Contact with drug

Exenatide shouldn’t be shared with anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you and even if the needle on the pen is changed. Sharing the pen may spread infection.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you are starting or stopping medicines. Your doctor or pharmacist will make sure that exenatide and the other medicines are OK to take together.

Call your doctor if your blood sugar control is getting worse even though you’re taking exenatide regularly. You may have developed antibodies to exenatide that make it no longer work. You’ll need different medicine to treat diabetes.

Allergies

Exenatide can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Exenatide can’t be used if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to exenatide or any of its components. If an allergic reaction occurs, stop exenatide and seek medical attention right away. Using it again could be fatal.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take exenatide (Dosage)

Injectable Solution

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on: 

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Add-on treatment for type 2 diabetes
Form: Prefilled pen for injection
Strengths: 5 mcg and 10 mcg
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • The starting dose is 5 mcg injected under your skin (subcutaneously) two times per day within the 60-minute period before the two main meals of the day. Make sure your doses of exenatide are at least 6 hours apart.
  • Don’t inject exenatide after a meal. Taking it after a meal is too late. It may not work or it may increase your risk of low blood sugar reactions.
  • If your blood sugar levels stay high after 1 month, your dose can be increased to 10 mcg taken two times per day.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Exenatide is not approved for use in children.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

You may have decreased kidney function. Your doctor may monitor you more closely before increasing your dose of exenatide.

Special Considerations

Decreased kidney function: No dosage change is needed if you have mild kidney problems. Use caution when starting or increasing doses of exenatide if you have moderate kidney problems. If you have severe kidney problems or end-stage renal disease, don’t use exenatide.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Exenatide comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If You Don’t Take It at All or If You Skip or Miss Doses

If you don’t take exenatide at all or skip doses, your blood sugar levels and diabetes won’t be controlled. You may get long-term complications from diabetes, such as heart, kidney, nerve, and eye problems.

If You Take Too Much

If you use too much exenatide, call your healthcare provider or poison control center right away.

Too much exenatide can cause your blood sugar to drop quickly, and you may have symptoms of a low blood sugar reaction (hypoglycemia). Symptoms include:

  • feeling jittery
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • hunger
  • fast heart rate
  • confusion
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • drowsiness
  • weakness 

Too much exenatide can also cause severe nausea and vomiting.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

Make sure to take your exenatide doses before meals. If you miss a dose, don’t take it after a meal. Just skip that dose and take your next dose at its scheduled time.

Don’t inject an extra dose or increase the amount of your next dose to make up for the missed dose.

How to Tell If the Drug Is Working

You may be able to tell if this drug is working if your blood sugar levels are lower.

Exenatide is a long-term drug treatment

Important Considerations for Taking Exenatide
take before meals Inject exenatide within 1 hour before your 2 main meals (6 hours or more apart)
storage Store new, unopened exenatide in the refrigerator See Details
refillable Prescription is refillable
travel Travel See Details
self-management Self-Management See Details
clinical monitoring Clinical Monitoring See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead
hidden costs Hidden Costs See Details
prior authorization Insurance See Details

Store new, unopened exenatide in the refrigerator

Store in temperatures from 36–46° F (2–8°C).

After the first injection, keep your exenatide pen at room temperature cooler than 77°F (25°C).

Don’t freeze exenatide. Don’t use it if it’s been frozen.

Protect exenatide from light.

Throw away the exenatide pen after 30 days from the first time you used it, even if there is some medicine left in it.

Don’t use exenatide after the expiration date printed on the label.

Don’t store exenatide with the needle attached. If the needle is left on, medicine may leak from the pen or air bubbles may form in the pen.

Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • You may need to show your pharmacy’s label to clearly identify the medication. Keep the original prescription label with you when traveling.
  • This medication needs to be refrigerated before it’s opened. You may need to use an insulated bag with a cold pack to maintain the temperature when traveling.
  • Don’t leave this medicine in the car, especially when the temperature is hot or freezing.
  • Pen needles need to be used to inject this medicine. Check for special rules about traveling with medicine, pen needles, and pens.

Self-Management

Exenatide is self-injected. Your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or diabetes educator will show you how to prepare and inject a dose. They’ll be with you when you give your first injection.

  • Exenatide is a clear, colorless solution. Before injecting exenatide, check to make sure it is clear and colorless. Don’t inject exenatide from this pen if it has changed color or has particles in it . That pen should be thrown out, even if there is still exenatide in the pen.
  • Each dose should be given under your skin as a subcutaneous injection in the thigh, abdomen, or outer part of your upper arm.
  • When injecting in the same body region, use a different injection site each time.
  • Don’t inject exenatide into your vein or muscle.  
  • Don’t transfer the medication from the pen to a vial or a syringe.
  • Don’t mix exenatide and insulin in the same syringe or vial even if you take them at the same time.

For the exenatide injection, you’ll need the following:

  • sterile alcohol wipes
  • pen needles
  • a safe container for used needle and pen disposal   

How to dispose of your used needles and syringes:

  • Put your used needles and syringes in a safe disposal container right away after use.
  • Don’t throw away loose needles and syringes in your household trash.
  • If you don’t have a safe needle disposal container, you may use a household container that:
    • is made of a heavy-duty plastic
    • can be closed with a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid, without sharps being able to come out
    • is upright and stable during use
    • is leak-resistant
    • is properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste inside the container
  • When your needle disposal container is almost full, you’ll need to follow your community guidelines for the right way to dispose of your container. There may be state or local laws about how you should throw away used needles and pens. If you must throw the container out in the trash, label it “DO NOT RECYCLE”.

Clinical Monitoring

To check if your medicine is working, your doctor will check the following:

  • blood sugar levels
  • glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels

To check if it’s safe to take or continue exenatide, your doctor will check the following:

  • kidney function
  • tests to confirm swelling of your pancreas (pancreatitis) if you have stomach pain

Hidden Costs

Besides the medicine, you’ll also need to purchase the following:

  • sterile alcohol wipes
  • pen needles
  • a safe container for used needle and pen disposal

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for exenatide.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.


Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on June 28, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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