Pancreatic problems
linked to Byetta

Byetta (exenatide)

The FDA warns that patients taking the prescription medication Byetta, which is used to treat Type 2 diabetes, are at an increased risk of developing pancreatitis and cellular changes that could lead to pancreatic cancer.

The FDA approved Byetta, known generically as exenatide, to use in conjunction with other diabetes medications, improved diet, and increased physical activity to help keep blood sugar levels optimal.

However, after Byetta became available, the FDA received reports of serious pancreatic inflammation and, in rare cases, necrotizing pancreatitis, in which severely inflamed tissue destroys surrounding cells.

An examination of insurance records found that patients using Byetta could be doubling their risk of developing severe pancreatitis.

Byetta belongs to a class of drugs called incretin mimetics, which the FDA is investigating as a possible factor for increased risk of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous cellular changes. Incretin mimetics are used in combination with other medications, plus diet modifications and boosted activity to promote ideal blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Some other drugs in the incretin mimetic class include Victoza (liraglutide) and Januvia (sitagliptin). Drugs in this class imitate hormones usually produced naturally by the body to keep blood sugar level at an optimum level.