The FDA is investigating the risk of pancreatic cancer from Onglyza, a new type-2 diabetes drug made by AstraZeneca.
Need a Texas Onglyza Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit in Texas.
Onglyza (saxagliptin) is a type-2 diabetes drug made by AstraZeneca. It belongs to a new class of drugs called “incretin mimetics,” which mimic digestive hormones called incretins that tell the pancreas to make more insulin. This helps control blood-sugar levels.
Onglyza and Pancreatic Cancer
Because Onglyza relies so heavily on the pancreas, it is not surprising that some patients have developed pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation) as a side effect. The problem is that low-level inflammation may not produce any symptoms, which could lead to chronic pancreatitis. Over time, this could increase a patient’s risk of pancreatic cancer.
Study Links Diabetes Drugs and Pre-Cancerous Pancreatic Growths
A study published in the medical journal Diabetes has found evidence supporting a link between diabetes drugs like Onglyza and pancreatic cancer.
After researchers autopsied pancreases of patients who used drugs in the incretin mimetic class, they found evidence of pre-cancerous cellular changes and a massive proliferation of cells in the pancreas, which could lead to pancreatic cancer.
According to researchers:
“Since the standard of care of a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, because of the risk of conversion to malignancy, even if benign, is surgical resection [i.e. removal], patients exposed to incretin therapy would seem to be at increased risk of requiring pancreatic surgery.”
FDA Investigates Onglyza Pancreatic Cancer Risk
In March 2013, the FDA issued a Safety Communication to announce it would investigate the pancreatic cancer risk of Onglyza and other incretin mimetic drugs. The FDA has already asked manufacturers of other incretin mimetics to “explore a potential signal of a serious risk of thyroid cancer and pancreatic cancer” back in 2009.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer occurs when cells start dividing and growing uncontrollably in the pancreas, which is a digestive organ. It is one of the rarest and deadliest cancers, with fewer than 5% of patients surviving more than five years.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Because pancreatic cancer produces few symptoms in its early stages, only one in five people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer before it spreads beyond the pancreas (metastasizes). Symptoms may include:
- Unexplained fatigue or weight-loss
- Sudden worsening of type-2 diabetes
- Abdominal pain, tenderness, swelling
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark urine and/or light-colored stools
- Jaundice (yellow skin or whites of the eyes)
- And more
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