Quoted from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-12/lilly-novo-diabetes-drugs-drew-renewed-scrutiny-on-possible-cancer-links.html
Lilly, Novo Diabetes Drugs Drew Renewed Scrutiny On Possible Cancer LinksBy Albertina Torsoli - Sep 13, 2011 8:56 AM ET
Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AMLN) and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY)’s Byetta medicine and Novo Nordisk A/S’s Victoza face scrutiny after some researchers warned that prolonged use of the insulin-raising treatments may make diabetics more vulnerable to cancers.
A debate on the potential dangers of GLP-1 therapies, the class of drugs to which Byetta and Victoza belong, will be a highlight of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference in Lisbon this week. A review of a database of side effects showed patients taking Byetta and a Merck & Co. drug had a sixfold increased chance of pancreatitis, which in turn raises the risk of tumors, researchers led by Robert Elashoff of the University of California at Los Angeles said this year.
The manufacturers say the treatments are safe and there’s no evidence of increased cancer risk. Sales of GLP-1 analogues, which mimic a hormone called GLP-1 to stimulate natural insulin production in diabetics, are increasing as doctors seek alternatives to older drugs for a disease that affects 366 million people worldwide, according to a new estimate today from the International Diabetes Federation.
“It’s a very tricky story,” Viktor Joergens, executive director of the EASD, said in a telephone interview. “You probably need decades and incredible numbers of people to study things like that. It will be a very interesting debate particularly because these drugs are now widely prescribed.”
Regulators already have taken note of possible links between the new classes of diabetes drugs and pancreatitis and thyroid tumors. Still, the renewed debate may prompt authorities to seek additional safety data before approving new GLP-1 drugs, Ele Ferrannini of the University of Pisa School of Medicine said in a telephone interview.
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