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Byetta® and Januvia® are diabetes drugs (known as incretin mimetics) which mimic the action of certain hormones found in the gastrointestinal tract, lowering blood sugar levels for adults with type 2 diabetes. A strong correlation has been identified between the use of Byetta® and Januvia®and the development of pancreatic cancer, as well as pancreatitis – an inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to pancreatic cancer. Byetta® has also been linked to thyroid cancer.
According to reports, Byetta® and Januvia® offer no advantage over other types of diabetes medication which are already readily available on the U.S. market and do not present these significant health risks. Public health advocates including Public Citizen are calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban both medications in the interests of public safety.
Researchers from the University of California quantified a six-fold increase in reported cases of pancreatitis among diabetics taking Januvia® or Byetta®, when compared to patients taking other diabetes medications. Patients also suffered a 2.9-fold increase in reported cases of pancreatic cancer for those taking Byetta®, and a 2.7-fold increase for those taking Januvia®. Byetta®users also suffered an increase in reported cases of thyroid cancer.
According to Bloomberg, the researchers reported “marked” cell proliferation and damage in people taking incretin mimetics, the class of drugs that includes Byetta® and Januvia® including a 40 percent increase in pancreatic cells as well as cell damage — which has the potential to develop into cancer — in the people treated with incretin therapy.
An earlier animal study from 2009 also identified potential health risks from Januvia® and Byetta® reporting higher pancreatitis rates among rats with elevated levels of the hormone known as glucagon-like peptide 1, which Januvia® and Byetta® are intended to boost.
According to the research, the drugs’ relative newness and lack of a demonstrated safety record leaves medical professionals with little information about their long-term effects but, surprisingly, does not inhibit the drugs’ manufacturers from marketing them as superior to older medicines on the market.
You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while taking Januvia® or Byetta®, you may be entitled to compensation in a Byetta® pancreatic cancer lawsuit.
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