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Incretin Diabetes Drugs Linked to Gallbladder Disease

Incretin Diabetes Drugs Linked to Gallbladder Disease

August 2, 2016 — Incretin-based diabetes drugs have been associated with an increased risk of bile duct and gallbladder disease in a new study.

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers at McGill University.

The risk was 79% higher in patients on GLP-1 analogues, which is a class of drugs that includes Byetta. They work by forcing the pancreas to make more insulin, which helps lower blood-sugar levels.

The primary adverse event was gallstones, which are treatable but often extremely painful. In a secondary analysis, researchers found a doubled increased rate of surgery to remove the gallbladder, which is a common treatment for painful gallstones.

The study authors say the conclusions are credible because GLP-1 agonists act directly on the pancreas. There is already concern about inflammation (pancreatitis) and pancreatic cancer.

Another study published yesterday did not find higher rates of pancreatitis. However, the FDA has issued warnings about pancreatitis and recommends seeking medical attention for symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

There are currently around 800 lawsuits pending in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2452) by people who experienced pancreatic side effects. They accuse drug-makers of failing to warn about the risk.

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