Januvia is a pioneer drug in a new class of medications designed to inhibit proteolytic activity of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4). Januvia was approved in October of 2006 and was released in the North American market during the same year. The drug has the effect of potentiating the action of incretins.
Both Januvia and another drug Byetta, are intended for the treatment of diabetes. Byetta is also part of a new class of drugs, which are known as glucagib-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It was approved for sale in 2005 and marketed shortly after approval.
Adverse event reports made to the FDA suggest that both Januvia and Byetta have troubling side effects. Patients taking Byetta have a 2.9-fold greater event rate of pancreatic cancer and patients taking Januvia have a 2.7-fold increased event rate. The increased cancer risk is related to the 10-fold increase in pancreatitis among Byetta-patients and the 6-fold increase in pancreatitis of patients treated with Januvia. Pancreatitis is a major risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer.
Neither Januvia nor Byetta carried a warning label alerting patients to the increased risk of cancer.
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