SAN ANTONIO -- Can a shot make you skinny? A new injection is changing the lives of diabetes patients -- by changing their waistlines.
It's a diabetes treatment and weight-loss drug packed into one dose. And patients say it's helping them melt away fat in just weeks.
Two local women lost more than 100 pounds combined in less than a year.
"I started to notice my pants were looser," said Xylina Smith, a diabetes patient and prescription employee at the Diabetes & Glandular Disease Clinic in San Antonio.
She said having type 2 diabetes has taken a toll. She was overweight and always hungry.
But now she injects herself twice a week with Victoza (liraglutide). She said it has helped her regulate her blood sugar and her appetite at the same time.
"Honestly, I was weighing 276," Smith admitted. "With diabetes you crave sugar. [Victoza] curbs your appetite."
"Before I was hungry all the time," Smith said. "That's what diabetes does to you."
Dr. Firas Akhrass has been treating diabetes patients with three different medications that help patients lose weight. They include Victoza, Byetta and the most recent, Bydureon.
"Just shipped it this week," he said. Bydureon became available in San Antonio pharmacies this month.
Unlike its predecessors, Dr. Akhrass says Bydureon only has to be injected once a week. So far, he has prescribed it to a handful of patients.
"You have to be type 2 diabetic," he added.
Smith lost almost 50 pounds taking Victoza. "I still need to lose more. Thirty to thirty-five pounds. I'm on the right track," Smith said. "It works. It really works."
That begs the question: Can anyone struggling with their weight take the shot to make them skinny? Dr. Akhrass says the answer is "no."
"As of today there is no FDA approval for that," he said.
The cost for the three injections typically is $300 per month. Smith said while that's not cheap, the drug has helped her cut down on taking other prescriptions.
"I just Victoza by itself. It keeps diabetes at bay," Smith said.
As for any painful side effects, patients tell KENS 5 that they have experienced nausea and some discomfort at first. "There was abdominal discomfort and cramping pain," Smith said.
But she said the good outweighs the bad... literally. "I went from 276 pounds to 230 pounds within a five-month period," Smith said. "You don't feel as tired and as irritable."
Doctors say as long as there is no cure for diabetes, patients will likely have to stay on the medication for a lifetime.
They also said the shots are no excuse not to exercise. Dr. Akhrass also emphasized that prevention is still the key to beating diabetes.
Statement from Novo Nordisk:
Victoza is approved, along with diet and exercise, to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Victoza is not approved for weight loss and is not a weight loss product. Any patient with type 2 diabetes should manage their treatment with their healthcare professional.