Newer Diabetes Medications Januvia and Byetta Linked to Pancreatitis

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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The past few years have brought new players in the treatment for Type II Diabetes. These medications, with more coming down the pipeline, are called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor) agonists.

Now, treatment with the GLP-1 based therapies sitagliptin (Januvia) and exenatide (Byetta) in adults with type 2 diabetes has been associated with acute pancreatitis.

That’s not good, but why should we still like these new medications? GLP-1 based therapies work well to lower sugars, are associated with an average weight loss of 2 – 8 pounds (a huge plus for diabetics), a low risk of hypoglycemia, and a good side-effect profile.

With that in mind, here is the downside: Recent study results indicated that current use within 30 days of GLP-1 based therapies doubled your risk of pancreatitis, as did use between 30 days and 2 years compared to nonusers.

Ouch.

Dr O.

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