Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Diabetes medication may inflame pancreas, doctors warn

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Those who take a form of medication to control their diabetes may be at increased risk of developing an inflamed pancreas, according to a new study. Glucagonlike peptide 1(GLP-1) therapies that include exenatide and sitagliptin, which is marketed as Januvia by Merck have been linked to pancreatitis before in studies on animals and small groups of patients.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "New therapies and risks are only evaluated when studies are done. We need to know (the drugs) are effective in lowering blood sugar, but we also need to know about risks," Dr. Sonal Singh, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore says.

Pancreatitis is a rare but common condition among those on diabetic medication. It is more common in people with type 2 diabetes. Singh said pancreatitis occurs in about three of every 1,000 diabetes patients.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about 19 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, and another 7 million who have the disease but don't know it -- yet.

In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't produce enough insulin or is resistant to what it does produce.

Researchers used data on 1,269 diabetes patients between the ages of 18 and 64 years old, who were admitted to U.S. hospitals with pancreatitis in 2005 through 2008. They compared those to 1,269 other diabetes patients who were similar, but were not hospitalized with pancreatitis.

Researchers found that 87 of the diabetes patients with pancreatitis were taking GLP-1 therapies, compared to 58 of the diabetes patients without pancreatitis.

Singh told Reuters Health that the findings show the drugs are linked to a doubling of the risk of pancreatitis, which is about six cases per 1,000 diabetics.

"I won't say you should be alarmed about the findings, but it's something you should consider," he said.

Staff endocrinologist in the clinic of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Dr. Aaron Cypess, said the new study will not change how he treats patients, but it may influence him to go over his patients' risk factors for pancreatitis.

"For me personally it's not going to change my practice pattern in terms of stopping the drugs, but we may revisit whether you're showing any of the risk factors," Cypess said.

In a joint statement, the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists also said the new findings should not change how doctors treat diabetes patients.

"The analysis is a retrospective study using data from an administrative database. This type of analysis is not considered as robust as a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial, the gold standard for evaluating treatments," the organizations wrote in the statement.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)