PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For type 2 diabetes, how about a shot that’s just once a week?

The FDA is considering a medicine that would be a weekly shot. And it’s not insulin.

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It’s a hormone called albiglutide — to be marketed by Glaxo Smith Kline as Eperzan.

“It lowers blood glucose levels and people tend to lose weight, as opposed to insulin where people can gain weight,” says endocrinologist Dr. Patricia Bononi at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

This hormone regulates blood sugar by slowing stomach emptying, increasing insulin secretion, and suppressing another hormone that raises blood sugar. Because it’s a protein, it has to be given by injection, not a pill.

“This is usually given to people when they’re on oral medication, and then they need something more than that to control their diabetes,” Dr. Bononi explains.

It joins a class of medication that has only been around a few years. Three other similar options – two are injected once or twice a day.

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Dr. Bononi has seen improved blood sugar tests in her patients using these.

“Unfortunately, most of these new drugs can be expensive, but the complications of diabetes can be expensive,” she points out.

The new drug is approved in Europe, but you can’t get it yet in the United States.

“It looks like the Europeans investigated this pretty fully; and often before a drug comes to market, they keep their research sort of under wraps, so I haven’t seen any published data yet,” says Dr. Bononi.

An opinion from the FDA is expected in mid-April.

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