Pancreatitis Problems Scaring Some Doctors Away from Byetta, Januvia
A recent report by DTW Marketing Research Group, Inc. suggests that prescriptions for the two popular diabetes drugs may suffer after a study this summer found that users of Januvia and Byetta may be six times more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatitis and three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
The impact-assessment study was conducted to see how aware physicians were about the new information and how they would respond. Researchers found 11-20% are likely to not prescribe the drugs at all. Another 29-39% said they would give additional warnings to patients about Byetta side effects and Januvia side effects when prescribing the drugs.
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Researchers surveyed 52 primary care physicians and 52 endocrinologists from November 10 through November 16. Primary care physicians were much more likely to drop the drugs from usage and warn patients than endocrinologists.
Byetta (exenatide) is used to control blood sugar levels and is part of a class of medications known as incretin mimetics, which imitate natural hormones that lower blood glucose levels. In recent years, FDA adverse event reports have raised concerns about a link between Byetta and pancreatitis, including severe cases of necrotizing pancreatitis and hemorrhagic pancreatitis, which have resulted in several deaths.
Concerns about pancreatitis from Byetta first surfaced in 2007, when the FDA issued an alert indicating that the drug had been linked to at least 30 reports of acute pancreatitis. In August 2008, the FDA notified doctors about six more cases of severe pancreatitis with Byetta, including two deaths. Following the FDA announcement, the drug makers disclosed that they were aware of at least four other pancreatitis deaths among Byetta users.
Januvia is a newer drug approved for the treatment of adults with Type-2 diabetes. It is one of the first in a new class of medications known as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. Januvia has rapidly become a strong selling medication for Merck.
In September 2009, FDA recommended that doctors monitor patients carefully for signs of pancreatitis from Januvia and Janumet after starting treatment or increasing dosage. The agency found that in 58 of the 88 cases of pancreatitis Januvia and Janumet users required hospitalization, and four required treatment in intensive care units (ICU).
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