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Pancreatitis Risk Doubles with Januvia and Byetta JAMA Study Shows

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Washington, DCResults from a new study of the diabetes treatments Januvia and Byetta show that the drugs may double the risk of pancreatitis. While both drugs have been associated with pancreatitis, new data reported in JAMA Internal Medicine finally reveal an estimate of the risk.

Study author Sonal Singh, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, and fellow researchers analyzed data from insurance records and found that patients who had been hospitalized with pancreatitis were twice as likely to be using Januvia or Byetta, when compared with diabetics who didn't have pancreatitis, Bloomberg reports. "This is the first real study to give an estimate of what the risk is," said Dr. Singh said. "Until now we just had a few case reports."

Both Januvia and Byetta are sold by Merck and through a partnership between Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “flagged” pancreatitis cases in Byetta patients. Then, in 2008 the FDA strengthened the warning on Byetta labeling after six patients had developed pancreatitis and died, although four of those patients’ deaths couldn’t be causally linked to the illness. In 2009 the FDA also flagged pancreatitis in patients on Januvia. Pancreatitis, in addition to being a health risk in and of itself, also increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.

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