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Januvia and Acute Pancreatitis

The diabetes medication Januvia (sitagliptin) and others in its class have been linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis as well as precancerous pancreatic cell changes, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety communication released March 14.

The agency's statement was based on a new small study of pancreatic tissue specimens taken from Type 2 diabetic patients after they died. The patients had been treated with a class of drugs called incretin mimetics, which includes Januvia. These drugs, which mimic a natural chemical in the body, stimulate the release of insulin after a meal.

The FDA reported it had not reached any conclusions about safety risks of these drugs. It was issuing the announcement to alert health care professionals and patients that it intended to conduct further studies of the results and the methods used to obtain them.

Previously, the FDA had announced other studies that had reported cases of acute pancreatitis occurring in Type 2 diabetes patients who took these medications. Also, another study published recently found that using these drugs could double the risk of acute pancreatitis. These findings were taken from patients' insurance records.

The medication label accompanying Januvia carries a warning for healthcare professionals to tell their patients about reports of acute pancreatitis occurring in Type 2 diabetes patients taking Januvia.

The medication label says

"Patients should be informed that persistent severe abdominal pain, sometimes radiating to the back, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting, is the hallmark symptom of acute pancreatitis."

Patients need to contact their doctor if such symptoms occur.

Pancreatitis Symptoms

The primary symptom of pancreatitis is abdominal pain that sometimes seems to move through the body to the back. Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis are:

  • Indigestion
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Oily or foul smelling stools

Patients should seek medical care if the pain is so severe that they have difficulty getting comfortable.

Some of the complications of acute pancreatitis include:

  • Trouble breathing: The inflammation of the pancreas causes chemical changes in the body that can reduce the oxygen levels in your blood to dangerously low levels
  • Diabetes, which damages cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, is another complication of pancreatitis
  • Infection: Acute pancreatitis can make the pancreas more susceptible to bacterial infection in the pancreas is serious and may require surgery to remove the infected tissue
  • Kidney failure, which might need to be treated by kidney dialysis
  • Malnutrition, diarrhea, weight loss due to fewer digestive enzymes to process food
  • Pancreatic cancer is a potential result of cell damage caused by pancreatitis
  • Pseudocysts are small pouches in the pancreas that collect fluid and debris (if one of these breaks and releases its contents, infection and internal bleeding may result)

Compensation May Be Available

If you or someone you love suffered pancreatitis that lead to pancreatic cancer or another serious health complication and you have a history of taking Januvia to treat diabetes, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Our Januvia cancer lawyers are investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of Januvia users who have been diagnosed with cancer and other serious side effects.

To find out if you qualify to file a Januvia lawsuit, please contact us today. Our lawyers represent individuals nationwide.

Januvia® (sitagliptin) is a Type 2 diabetes medication manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc. Januvia® is a registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc.

Januvia® News

  • Januvia Sales Drop for the Quarter

    May 1st, 2013

    Sales of Merck's Januvia, a diabetes medication and the company's biggest seller, dropped for the first quarter of the year. The news, which was reported May 1, was surprising, Reuters said. Merck also lowered its full-year forecast today. Merck sales for the quarter dropped 9 percent to $10.7 billion, according to reports. That number is well below the $11.09 billion the market was expecting. The drug company... read more

  • Public Citizen Urges FDA to Ban Januvia Because of Cancer Risk

    April 15th, 2013

    Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, issued a statement last month, addressing the risk of precancerous changes in the pancreases of diabetic patients who use diabetes drugs Januvia (sitagliptin), Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide). According to the statement, Drs. Alexandra Butler and Peter Butler of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and colleagues published a study in the journal "Diabetes," showing... read more