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Diabetes Drug Warning -- Study Links Two Drugs to Cancer

The New York Times recently highlighted the work of Peter C. Butler, a UCLA endocrinologist who found precancerous changes in the pancreatic tissue of people who'd taken the antidiabetes drugs Januvia (sitagliptin) or Byetta (exenatide).
The NIH will hold a meeting in June 2013 to investigate links between diabetes drugs and pancreatic cancer.

Excerpt from the article:

"Dr. Peter C. Butler initially declined a request by the drug maker Merck to test whether its new diabetes drug, Januvia, could help stave off the disease in rats.“I said, I’m not interested in your money, go away,” Dr. Butler recalled. Merck no doubt now wishes it had. When Dr. Butler finally agreed to do the study, he found worrisome changes in the pancreases of the rats that could lead to pancreatic cancer."

"Questions about whether the drugs raise the risk of pancreatitis, a painful and possibly lethal inflammation of the pancreas, arose soon after the first one, Byetta, now sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca, was approved in 2005. The drugs’ labels already contain warnings about that. What is new and potentially more serious is a possible risk of pancreatic cancer, which is virtually untreatable and kills most victims within a year.

Many people in the field compare Dr. Butler to Dr. Steven Nissen, the well-known Cleveland Clinic cardiologist whose warnings about Avandia, a different type of diabetes drug, led to its being banned in Europe and highly restricted in the United States.

Both men have faced criticism from those who call them zealots. The F.D.A. is about to examine data suggesting that Avandia might not be so dangerous after all. Some critics say Dr. Butler overstates his conclusions and that his findings have not been replicated by others."  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/business/a-doctor-raises-questions-about-a-diabetes-drug.html?smid=pl-share

If you or a loved one have been taking Januvia or Byetta, please call or email our firm for a free legal consultation on this issue.