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Newest Diabetes Drug, Januvia, Linked to Increased Cancer Risks

Filed December 31st, 2012 F.A. Kelley

Januvia (sitagliptin) has been linked to increased risks for pancreatic side effects, pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer. Januvia is manufactured by drug maker, Merck.

In the class, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors, Januvia increases certain natural substances that lower raised blood sugar levels; however, serious side effects have been linked to the drug. According to Foodconsumer.org, some of these serious side effects include low blood sugar; anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions including hives, rash, swelling of face, lips, tongue, and/or throat; acute pancreatitis, and death.

Januvia was approved in 2006 by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA); however, in 2009, the agency required a label update warning of the risk of acute pancreatitis, NewsInferno reported. The FDA based the 2009 label warning on 88 reports of acute pancreatitis in patients who took Januvia between October 2006 and February 2009. Chronic pancreatitis is painful, potentially fatal, and a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

A study published in July 2011 in the journal, Gastroenterology, contained an analysis of adverse event reports the FDA received from patients taking new diabetes drugs, including Januvia. Januvia patents had a 2.7-fold increase in pancreatic cancer rates.

Foodconsumer.org says that testing for the safety of Januvia has not looked at other effects drugs in the DPP-4 inhibitors class, specifically, the drugs’ role in inhibiting one of the body’s natural cancer suppressing mechanisms. Diabetes patients could be at risk for years before the full effects and risks of taking Januvia and other DPP-4 drugs are known.

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