Byetta part of the class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor antagonists. This drug is an injectable diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels and is used to treat Type-2 Diabetes. This medication is used to assist the pancreas produce insulin more efficiently. This extremely popular treatment earned around $490 million last year in the United States.
Reports connecting Byetta to pancreatic cancer began surfacing shortly after its introduction to the consumer marketplace in April of 2005. Patients have had issues ranging from pancreatic inflammation to the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Only a few years after its introduction, Byetta was linked to increasing reports about patients who had developed pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. Amylin Pharmaceuticals, makers of Byetta, has stood by its medication and says there is no connection to pancreatic ailments, despite the several reports that have come to light. Patients with chronic pancreatitis have a substantially increased risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, a risk which Amylin (now Bristol Meyers-Squibb) had failed to warn consumers about.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Because of the failure to warn patients of the associated risks, people may face the development of cancer if early detection of pancreatitis is not discovered. The risk for cancer may increase the longer the patient undergoes treatment with Byetta.
In addition to a potential link between Byetta and pancreatic issues, studies have indicated that use of Byetta significantly increased the risk of people developing Byetta thyroid cancer, by a ratio of 4.7. The Thyroid is a gland in the front of the neck responsible for producing metabolic hormones, and can cause symptoms such as enlargement of the neck, persistent cough, trouble swallowing, or pain in the neck or ears, among others.
Numerous studies and reports have shown a link between Byetta and pancreatic cancer:
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