Diabetes Medication

My Byetta Progress Report

The pounds keep coming off.

In my previous progress report here about my weight loss on Byetta I was just getting started. In my first month and one-half of taking this new medicine for diabetes I wrote that I had lost 22 pounds.

That was back in March. I don’t see my doctor, Jeffry N. Gerber, M.D., often. That’s partly because his office south of Denver is about an hour from my home in Boulder. Why my doctor is so far from where I live is something that I explained in an even earlier blog entry.

By my second follow-up visit to Dr. Gerber in May I had lost 48 pounds after 3 and one-half months on Byetta. The August issue of Diabetes Health magazine just carried that article, which is now also online on my website.

Since magazines have a much longer lead time than my blog, I can already report the results of my third follow-up visit to Dr. Gerber in early August. After exactly six months on Byetta I have now lost a total of 68 pounds.

While my weight loss continues, it has certainly slowed down. Losing 20 pounds in the last two and one-half months can’t compare with losing 22 pounds in the first month and one-half. That is to be expected, Dr. Gerber says, and both of us are pleased with my continued progress.

My BMI (body mass index) is still too high as I calculate it at the government’s site. A normal BMI for my height corresponds to my weight when I was discharged from the Army. That remains my goal.

Weight loss is technically only an incidental side effect of using Byetta. The Food and Drug Administration approved it last year mainly to help people who aren’t in good control – namely with an A1C above 7.0.

My A1C was 6.8 when I started on Byetta. The small drop to 6.4 after six months disappointed me. I still hope to bring it down below 6.0.

Hypertension commonly goes along with diabetes, but my blood pressure has never been too bad. It dropped from 140 over 80 six months ago to 126 over 70 now.

On the other hand, I have been concerned about my high cholesterol for years. Most people can control it with one of the statins, but every one of them gave me terrible muscle pains in my right leg. I am not taking any medication for cholesterol now.

Nevertheless, my total cholesterol dropped from 225 to 207 in the past six months. Still too high, but definitely better. LDL cholesterol, however, hardly moved from 158 to 154, still far from the recommended level of below 100. My HDL (good) cholesterol increased from 28 to 33, but still a way to go from the recommended level of more than 40.

Triglycerides, however, made the biggest improvement, from 193 to 104. The recommended level is below 150. Dr. Gerber tells me that this excellent number is the result of my much lower carb diet.

All this quantification indicates how wonderful Byetta has been in my life. The improvement of the quality of my life has been, if anything, even greater. I have much more energy, feel 10 years younger, and have a much more positive outlook on life. I am such a believer in Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed Byetta, that I bought 100 shares of its stock about the time I started on it.

But Byetta has been almost too successful.

The bad news is that Lilly, which distributes Byetta along with Amylin, doesn’t want new patients to start on Byetta right now. They can’t make the pens that Byetta comes in fast enough. Lilly has “asked physicians to temporarily suspend the start of new patients on Byetta until supply and inventory levels are restored.”

Consequently, I almost feel that I am being mean by talking up something that you might not be able to get right now. But my recommendation is to be patient. It’s worth it.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • Bob & Joyce September 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Dave, As of 2012 what you think of Byetta are you for or against?

    • David Mendosa September 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Dear Bob and Joyce,

      I am very much for Byetta! With it, I turned my life around. I still think that Byetta is wonderful. But Bydurion, which you have to take only once a week, might be even better.

      Best regards,