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Ohio drug injury attorneys: Diabetic wonder drugs may damage pancreas

Are you one of the millions of Americans with Type 2 Diabetes? If you are, you probably have struggled with ways to keep the disease in check. For many, exercise and diet are enough. For others, medication is necessary to regulate their blood glucose levels.

Two popular diabetes drugs—Januvia and Byetta—have been prescribed to millions of Americans in recent years. The drugs have been linked to a risk of developing pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas linked to cancer and liver failure, but a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finally puts a concrete number on that risk.

An analysis of insurance records published in February in the journal found that drugs such as Januvia and Byetta may double a user’s risk of pancreatitis. Researchers studying insurance records found that patients hospitalized with pancreatitis were twice as likely to be taking Januvia or Byetta, compared with diabetics who didn’t have pancreatitis.

Another study, led by researchers at UCLA, found that drugs such as Januvia and Byetta may cause pancreatic cell growth and damage that could turn cancerous. In the new study, an examination of pancreases from 20 diabetics found a 40 percent increase in pancreatic cells, as well as cell damage, in people treated with incretin mimetics—a category of drugs that includes Januvia and Byetta.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had previously issued safety alerts for both drugs. In 2007, the agency flagged pancreatitis cases in Byetta patients, and followed suit with Januvia in 2009.

Long-term studies must be performed. These studies will become even more important in the future, as the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to rise from 25 million people now to more than 34 million by 2020.

The drug injury attorneys of Elk & Elk are actively investigating cases involving Januvia and Byetta. If you or a loved one have suffered from pancreatitis or pancreatic or thyroid cancer after taking Januvia or Byetta, find out how we can help. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out our free online consultation form.