If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may suggest Bydureon BCise (exenatide extended release) as a treatment option. Along with other factors, you may have questions about possible side effects of the drug.

Bydureon BCise is a prescription drug that treats type 2 diabetes in adults and some children. It’s used along with diet and exercise to help manage blood sugar levels.

Bydureon BCise comes as a suspension (a type of liquid mixture). It’s given as an injection under your skin with a pen device called an auto-injector. The vial and pen forms of Bydureon have been discontinued.

Bydureon BCise is typically prescribed as a long-term treatment. For more information about Bydureon BCise, see this in-depth article.

Like other drugs, Bydureon BCise can cause mild or serious side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during their Bydureon BCise treatment. Some of the more common side effects reported for this drug include:

  • nausea
  • mild injection site reaction*

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Read on to learn about mild and severe side effects that can happen with Bydureon BCise.

You may have mild side effects from Bydureon BCise. Examples that have been reported include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

In most cases, these side effects are temporary, and some are easily managed. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or that bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And don’t stop using Bydureon BCise unless your doctor recommends it.

Bydureon BCise may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. See the Bydureon BCise prescribing information for details.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Bydureon BCise, visit MedWatch.

In rare cases, serious side effects can happen with Bydureon BCise. Examples that have been reported include:

If you develop serious side effects with Bydureon BCise, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* Bydureon BCise has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after injecting Bydureon BCise. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies. But allergic reaction has been reported since Bydureon BCise became available for use.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the side effects of Bydureon BCise.

Will I have side effects if I stop Bydureon BCise treatment?

No, Bydureon BCise isn’t known to cause withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can happen when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on. But these side effects weren’t reported in studies of Bydureon BCise.

Keep in mind that this medication is used to help manage your blood sugar level. So your blood sugar may increase after you stop using the drug.

Before stopping Bydureon BCise, talk with your doctor. They’ll advise when it’s safe to stop using the drug. And they’ll likely want to prescribe another treatment for your condition.

Do I have a higher risk of side effects from Bydureon BCise because of my age?

It’s possible, but it isn’t known for sure.

Side effects of Bydureon BCise in older people are thought to be the same as in younger people. Studies of Bydureon BCise in adults ages 65 years and older didn’t show any differences in side effects for this age group.

But older people may have other health conditions that affect how their bodies respond to Bydureon BCise. (For example, older people may be more likely to have kidney problems.) These health conditions could increase their risk of side effects from this drug.

If you’re concerned about using Bydureon BCise because of your age, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits. Your doctor can determine if this is an appropriate drug to treat your condition.

Can Bydureon BCise cause eye problems?

It’s not likely. Eye problems weren’t reported as side effects in studies of the drug.

Bydureon BCise isn’t known to make existing eye problems worse. But other medications used to treat type 2 diabetes can worsen certain eye problems. For example, Trulicity (dulaglutide) can worsen diabetic retinopathy in people who already have this condition. (Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by damaged blood vessels in the eye.)

If you’re concerned about your risk of eye problems with Bydureon BCise, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about some of the side effects Bydureon BCise may cause.

Injection site reactions

Injection site reactions may occur with Bydureon BCise. These are reactions around the area where Bydureon BCise is injected.

Mild injection site reactions were common in studies of Bydureon BCise and included:

In rare cases, Bydureon BCise may cause severe injection site reactions. Examples include:

What might help

To reduce your risk of injection site reactions, inject each dose into a new site of the same region each week. (The region would be your upper arms, thighs, or belly. And each injection site should be two finger-widths from the last one.)

If you have any of the reactions listed above while using Bydureon BCise, talk with your doctor. In severe cases, you may need surgery to treat the affected area. Your doctor will then advise you on the best way to treat your condition.

Thyroid cancer

Bydureon BCise has a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bydureon BCise may increase your risk of thyroid cancer. While this side effect wasn’t reported in human studies, animal studies have shown a risk of this side effect. But animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in humans.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include:

What might help

Tell your doctor right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above while you’re using Bydureon BCise. They can check to see what’s causing your symptoms.

If you or someone in your family has had thyroid cancer, including medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), tell your doctor. In this case, it’s likely they will not prescribe Bydureon BCise to treat your type 2 diabetes.

Doctors also usually prescribe a different type 2 diabetes treatment if you have a condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

Low blood sugar level

Low blood sugar is a possible side effect of Bydureon BCise. In studies, this side effect was more common when Bydureon BCise was used together with certain diabetes drugs. Examples include:

Symptoms of low blood sugar may include:

What might help

Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of low blood sugar with Bydureon BCise. They may need to adjust the dosage of other diabetes drugs you’re taking.

If you have symptoms of low blood sugar with Bydureon BCise, try to increase your blood sugar level. This can be done by eating 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates. Good sources include:

  • 4 ounces (oz) of juice
  • 4 oz of soda (regular, not diet)
  • hard candies
  • glucose tablets

After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar level. If needed, take another 15 g of carbohydrates.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Bydureon BCise can cause an allergic reaction in some people. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies but has been reported since Bydureon BCise became available for use.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin (typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet)
  • swelling of your face, mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Or they may recommend a topical product, such as hydrocortisone cream, to help manage your symptoms.

If your doctor confirms you had a mild allergic reaction to Bydureon BCise, they’ll decide if you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Bydureon BCise, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Bydureon BCise treatment, consider keeping notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon after starting that dose you had the side effect
  • what your symptoms were
  • how it affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Taking notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Bydureon BCise affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Below are a few warnings related to Bydureon BCise.

Boxed warning: Thyroid cancer

Bydureon BCise has a boxed warning for the risk of thyroid cancer. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bydureon BCise may increase your risk of thyroid cancer. This drug should not be used by people with a personal or family history of certain cancers.

To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section above.

Other warnings

Bydureon BCise may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting Bydureon BCise. The list below includes factors to consider.

Stomach problems. Before using Bydureon BCise, tell your doctor if you have any problems with digestion. (This includes gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach empties food more slowly than it should.) Bydureon BCise may worsen these conditions. If you have severe problems with digestion, your doctor may prescribe a different treatment for your condition.

Kidney problems. Tell your doctor if you have any kidney problems before starting Bydureon BCise. If you do, this drug may worsen the condition. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can lead to dehydration (low fluid level), and this can make your kidney problems worse. Your doctor will order tests to monitor your kidney function during your treatment. They may prescribe a medication other than Bydureon BCise if it causes you kidney problems.

Pancreatitis. Tell your doctor if you currently have pancreatitis (swelling in the pancreas) or if you’ve had it in the past. While Bydureon BCise hasn’t been studied in people who’ve had this condition, it’s possible this drug may cause it. If you’ve had pancreatitis in the past, you may be at higher risk of it while using Bydureon BCise. In this case, your doctor may prescribe a different treatment for your condition.

If you have the following symptoms (with or without nausea), stop using Bydureon BCise and call your doctor immediately:

  • severe pain in your belly area that won’t go away
  • pain from your belly area to your back

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Bydureon BCise or any of its ingredients, your doctor will probably not prescribe it for you. Ask them what other medications might be better options for your condition.

Alcohol and Bydureon BCise

There aren’t any known safety issues with drinking alcohol while using Bydureon BCise. But it may be best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink during your treatment. Alcohol can increase or decrease your blood sugar level. And this can make it hard for Bydureon BCise to manage your blood sugar.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much, if any, is safe for you to drink while using Bydureon BCise.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding with Bydureon BCise

It may not be safe to use Bydureon BCise during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

To learn more about the risks and benefits of using Bydureon BCise during these times, talk with your doctor.

Bydureon BCise is prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes.

Mild side effects from Bydureon BCise are common. But this drug can also cause serious side effects in some people.

If you have questions about side effects from Bydureon BCise, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Below are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • How can I manage side effects I may have with this drug?
  • Do I have a higher risk of side effects if I take other diabetes medications with Bydureon BCise?
  • Are there any side effects of this treatment that I should tell you about right away?

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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 another 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.