August 2, 2016 — A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found higher rates of bile duct and gallbladder disease in patients on incretin-based diabetes drugs.
GLP-1 analogues were associated with a 79% increased risk. The most common adverse event was gallstones, which can be extremely painful.
In a secondary analysis, the drugs were associated with a doubled increased risk of surgery to remove the gallbladder, which is a common treatment for very painful gallstones.
Researchers say the association is believable because GLP-1 analogues act directly on the pancreas and there is already concern about inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation in the pancreas (pancreatitis) could potentially increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Patients should watch for symptoms of pancreatitis —nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain — and seek emergency medical treatment if any symptoms occur.
Incretin-based medications for type-2 diabetes have become very popular in recent years. They work by increasing hormones that stimulate the pancreas to make more insulin, which lowers blood-sugar levels.
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