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Januvia and Byetta Raise Diabetic Patients’ Risk of Pancreatitis

Filed February 28th, 2013 Laurie

The diabetes treatments, Januvia and Byetta, may double patients’ risks of developing pancreatitis, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study.

The JAMA Internal Medicine research offers proof of a connection between the drugs and puts numbers to that; pancreatitis has long been linked to both medications. Researchers analyzed insurance records and found that patients hospitalized with pancreatitis were twice as likely to be using either Januvia or Byetta, compared to diabetics without pancreatitis. Meanwhile, case reports prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a safety alert for Byetta in 2007, and one for Januvia in 2009. In 2008, the agency added a stronger warning label to Byetta after six pancreatitis deaths were reported, according to FiercePharma.com.

Januvia is a huge money maker for Merck, having made $4 billion for the company last year alone. Merck made an additional $1.65 million on Janumet, which combines Januvia and the drug metformin. Byetta, marketed through Bristol-Myers and AstraZeneca, earned $148 million in 2012, and was one of the prime reasons Bristol-Myers opted to purchase Amylin Pharmaceuticals, FiercePharma.com reported.

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