Product News and Recalls

Doctor trying to spread word about diabetes drug risk

The New York Times reports on the efforts of Dr. Peter C. Butler, an internationally recognized diabetes expert described as a “crusader” for his attempts to warn about an apparent link between certain medications and potentially deadly pancreas ailments.

The report says Butler’s involvement in the issue began when he did a study on behalf of pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck, to test the effectiveness of its drug Januvia in treating diabetes.

When Butler conducted the study in 2008, he found changes in the pancreases of rats that could lead to pancreatic cancer.

His follow-up studies have cast doubts on the safety of the entire class of drugs called incretin mimetics, which include Januvia and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Byetta.

Concerns about pancreatitis, a painful and potentially lethal inflammation of the pancreas, arise soon after Byetta’s approval in 2005, the story says. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already requires the drugs’ labels to reflect that risk.

But a new and potentially more serious risk that Butler and other researchers have uncovered is a potential link between the drugs and pancreatic cancer. The story says that pancreatic cancer is virtually untreatable, and kills most people who contract it within a year.

According to the story, plaintiffs who reportedly suffered pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer after taking Byetta or Januvia have filed hundreds of lawsuits.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. You should also consult with a Lopez McHugh attorney if you or a loved one was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after taking Januvia or Byetta.

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