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Investigation into certain Type 2 diabetes medication risks

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes among Americans. And with millions of people living with the disease, there are no doubt a good number of people in Tennessee who either have been diagnosed themselves or know someone else who has.

With Type 2 diabetes the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Typically, the solution to this is diet, exercise and medication.

Some patients with diabetes are treated with incretin mimetics. These drugs work by acting like the hormones that the body normally naturally produces in order for insulin to be released.

However, now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into a possible increased risk for pancreatitis and pre-cancerous cellular changes among those patients with Type 2 diabetes who are using incretin mimetics. Some popular brands include Merck's Januvia, Novo Nordisk's Victoza and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Byetta.

The FDA decided to open the investigation after an examination was conducted by researchers on a small group of patients who all had Type 2 diabetes and were taking incretin mimetics. The findings, which are unpublished, point to a connection between the use of incretin mimetics and an increased risk of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous cellular changes.

At this point, the FDA is asking the researchers to provide information related to their methodology and to provide samples for the FDA to examine.

At this time, patients taking incretin mimetics are being told by the FDA to continue to take their medications as prescribed. The medical community is also being told to continue to follow the prescription recommendations that come with the medications.

Overall, with millions of Americans living with Type 2 diabetes and millions more being spent every year on medications, even just the possibility of an increased risk for pancreatitis and findings consistent with pre-cancerous cellular changes among these medications is frightening.


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