Type 2 Diabetes Drugs May Cause Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer, FDA Investigating

First Posted: Mar 14, 2013 11:08 PM EDT

There is new evident that a group of Type 2 diabetes drugs may increase patients risk of getting pancreatic cancer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday, adding that they are looking into the research.

The drugs include Merck & Co. Januvia, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Byetta, Bydureon and Onglyza, Januvia, and Eli Lilly & Co.'s Tradjenta, and Novo Nordisk A/S's Victoza. The current labels on the drugs already warn patients an increased risk of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, however the new suggested link to pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas is not stated.

The drugs are approved to treat people with Type 2 diabetes, a disease characterized by the inability to properly make or use insulin. The products work by mimicking incretin hormones in order to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal.

The FDA says samples of pancreas tissue taken from a small number of patients showed inflammation of the pancreas and cellular changes which often occur before a patient gets cancer. The unpublished results come from a group of academic researchers, and the FDA says it is seeking more information, according to the Associated Press.

The agency suggests patients should continue taking their medicines as directed until consulting with their doctors for further advice. In the meantime, the FDA said it does not have enough information yet to make any conclusions regarding the safety of the drugs.

"These findings were based on examination of a small number of pancreatic tissue specimens taken from patients after they died from unspecified causes," the agency said. The FDA has asked the researchers to explain how they collected and studied the specimens and to provide tissue samples so the agency can further assess any possible risks.

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