Certain incretin-based drugs – a range of medications used to lower glucose levels in blood – have been linked, somewhat controversially, to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. The controversy comes from the lack of verifiable data; previous analysis of autopsy specimens has been criticized for flawed methodology, while administrative database studies have resulted in either inconclusive results or indicated that no links exists.
Previous studies that have found slight increases in pancreatic cancer and pancreases-related illnesses in certain patients have been unable to confirm whether the results are due to patients’ lifestyles or directly as a result of incretin mimetics.
Regardless, the impact of incretin therapy on patients with diabetes is an important issue, and now the American Diabetes Association is taking steps to determine and quantify any effects. The Association has announced its intention to launch an independent review, and proposed releasing a call for academic organizations that might be capable of dealing with large amounts of experimental data and determine whether there exists any link between incretin and pancreatic disease.
What’s more, the ADA has released a call for drug companies who produce relevant medications, such as Januvia and Byetta, to make patient data available. Specifically, manufacturers may possess regulatory trial data, which could feasibly be used in an independent analysis of the drugs’ use and any side effects. The ADA has called on all pharmaceutical companies with medications currently on the market, as well as those in development, to release their patient-level data for analysis.
Previous studies that have found slight increases in pancreatic cancer and pancreases-related illnesses in certain patients have been unable to confirm whether the results are due to patients’ lifestyles – weight problems and alcohol consumption – or directly as a result of incretin mimetics. The study proposed by the ADA would hopefully have access to a large enough pool of information and data as to produce clear and verifiable results – either suggesting that incretin therapies may be harmful, or proving their safety.
The ADA, founded in 1940, works to prevent and cure diabetes through research, management, care delivery and community services, and has information in English and Spanish at www.diabetes.org.