There are concerns doctors and other medical experts about risk of pancreatic cancer from Januvia. Januvia (sitagliptin) is a type 2 diabetes drug released by Merck in 2006, which is a new class of medications called incretin mimetics.
Janumet, a combination pill containing Januvia and diabetes drug metformin was released by Merck in 2007. The medications are blockbusters for the giant pharmaceutical company, generating $4 billion in sales in 2012.
Januvia Pancreatic Cancer Side Effects
There serious concerns about the side effects of Januvia and other incretin mimetic diabetes drugs on the pancreas, including a risk of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.
Other medications include Byetta (exenatide), which is manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and Victoza (liraglutide), which is manufactured by Novo Nordisk.
In March, the FDA began a safety review into pancreatic cancer risks associated with Januvia and other incretin mimetics. The investigation started after results of a recent study identified pre-cancerous changes in pancreatic tissue taken from patients treated with one of the drugs.
Many Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza lawsuits have been filed by patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Patients have alleged that the manufacturers downplayed the risks of pancreatic cancer.
All of the lawsuits involve allegations that the drug makers knew or should have known about the risk of pancreatic cancer and failed to adequately warn users or the doctors. Januvia (sitagliptin) has been linked to a 2.7-fold increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Januvia is a Type-2 diabetes medication that works by inhibiting an enzyme called DPP-4, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels, but also defends against cancer by limiting tumor growth. Januvia may reduce the body’s defenses against pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and more.
How does Januvia work?
Januvia is a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor. DPP-4 is an enzyme produced by the intestinal tract and it is responsible for keeping levels of incretins in check. Incretins hormones signals the liver to stop producing glucose, and signals the pancreas to start producing more insulin. By blocking DPP-4, incretin levels rise, and the pancreas produces extra insulin. Insulin signals cells to absorb blood-sugar, which lowers blood-sugar levels.
Januvia and Pancreatic Cancer Reports
In 2011, the Gastroenterology journal published the first major study linking Januvia to an increased risk of cancer. The researchers looked at side effect reports that were submitted to the FDA from 2004-2009. They compared reports for Januvia to reports for other comparable diabetes drugs.
The researchers found Januvia associated with the following side effects:
- Pancreatic cancer was 2.7-times more common in people taking Januvia
- Acute pancreatitis was 6 times more common in people taking Januvia
- Byetta, was associated with a higher risk of thyroid cancer. It is possible that Januvia also increases the risk of thyroid cancer.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a licensed Texas Medical Doctor and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.