The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will investigate whether a new class of Type 2 diabetes drugs sometimes called the "gliptins" may increase patients' risk of developing precancerous changes in the pancreas, as well as of developing acute pancreatitis.
The drugs now under closer FDA scrutiny are called incretin mimetics and include such widely prescribed medications as the drug exenitide (marketed as Byetta and Bydureon), liraglutide (Victoza), sitagliptin (Januvia and Janumet or Juvisync), saxagliptin (Onglyza), alogliptin (Nesina, Kazano and Oseni) and linogliptin (Tradjenta and Jentadueto). All of the drugs in this class help Type 2 diabetes patients control their blood sugar by mimicking the hormones that promote the release of insulin after a meal.
The FDA already has issued consumer warnings that patients taking these diabetes drugs may be at higher risk of developing acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the gland that secretes insulin and the enzymes needed to digest food and extract their nutrients. But the agency said an as-yet unpublished study found that pancreatic cells taken from patients who had died of unspecified causes had developed precancerous cellular changes called pancreatic duct metaplasia.
FDA investigators have asked those researchers to share their methods and findings with the agency so that they can "investigate potential pancreatic toxicity associated with the incretin mimetics."