Diabetes drugs linked to pancreatitis have a possible cancer connection, FDA says

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The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a possible link between commonly prescribed diabetes drugs and pancreatic cancer. The drugs, including Januvia and Byetta, were previously connected with fatal cases of pancreatic inflammation known as pancreatitis.

Researchers found precancerous changes on the cellular level in pancreatic tissue specimens from deceased individuals who were on these drugs, according to the FDA. The study findings are unpublished, and the FDA has asked for more details about the research.

The medications in question are called mimetics because they mimic the body's incretin hormones to stimulate insulin production. Individuals prescribed mimetics should continue to take them as directed by healthcare professionals, the FDA said. However, long-term care providers and residents on these drugs should be alert to “adverse events” and report them to the FDA MedWatch program, the agency urged.