Among the diabetes medications possibly linked to an increased risk of thyroid and/or pancreatic cancer are:
Diabetes Medication Side Effects
Exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon)
Sitaglptin (Januvia, Janumet, Janumet XR, Juvisync)
Liraglutide (Victoza) Saxagliptin (Onglyza, Kombiglyze XR)
Alogliptin (Nesina, Kazano, Oseni)
Linagliptin (Tradjenta, Jentadueto)
The drugs are in a class of diabetes medication called incretin mimetic drugs because they mimic incretin hormones that are naturally produced in the body, and which stimulate the release of insulin following a meal.
On March 14, 2013, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication about the drugs noting that it was evaluating findings from researchers that suggested an increased risk of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous cellular changes in patients who used incretin mimetics. Pancreatitis is also associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. At the time, the FDA said it had not reached new conclusions about the drugs, and said it has not concluded the drugs cause or contribute to pancreatic cancer.
Both exenatide and sitagliptin have also been linked in reports to fatal and nonfatal cases of acute pancreatitis. The FDA noted that one study found up to double the risk of acute pancreatitis in patients who used either of those drugs.
Byetta has been linked to an increased risk of acute pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about Byetta, including reports of necrotizing or hemorrhagic pancreatitis, two of which resulted in death.
Byetta lawsuits have been filed against the maker of the drug, alleging patients developed pancreatic cancer after using the diabetes medication.
Januvia has been linked to an increased risk of acute pancreatitis. Between October 16, 2006, and February 9, 2009, the FDA reportedly received 88 post-marketing reports of acute pancreatitis linked to the medication. Of those, 66 were hospitalized and four were treated in the intensive care unit.
One study, published in the journal Gastroenterology (7/11) suggested a link between the use of Januvia and the development of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, but other researchers argued the study was flawed.
In March 2013, the FDA announced it was undertaking a safety review of Januvia, Byetta and Bydureon to determine the risk of pancreatitis in patients who used the medications. In addition, a motion has been filed with the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) to consolidate approximately 53 lawsuits that allege pancreatic cancer as a result of Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza.
In March 2013, the FDA announced that results from a study suggested Victoza was linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis. The FDA has not so far requested any changes to the Victoza label, but it has said it is reviewing data from the study. Meanwhile, animal studies suggest Victoza is linked to an increased risk of a rare thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer.
Victoza is one of the diabetes drugs included in the motion filed with the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) that aims to consolidate diabetes drug lawsuits alleging pancreatic cancer as a result of taking Januvia, Janumet, Byetta or Victoza.
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