Last night's Dispatches programme, "Diets, Drugs and Diabetes" (10th June 2013) on Channel 4, investigated the link between certain diabetes drugs and pancreatic cancer.
This programme highlighted conflicting views about whether data indicates that the use of GLP-1 agonists e.g. Exenatide and Liraglutide, and sold as Byetta and Victoza leads to the development of problems with the pancreas including pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat and often has a poor prognosis. Therefore, it is important to investigate any treatment where there are concerns about increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
Both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are investigating information provided by researchers on the risk of these drugs to the pancreas to determine the need for possible regulatory action in Europe. Understandably, people who are being prescribed any of these drugs will be concerned about increasing their risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. We hope, therefore, that the EMA will prioritise this investigation.
In the meantime, we would recommend that anyone with concerns about these drugs and possible links to pancreatic cancer speak to their GP or healthcare team.
This case certainly highlights the need to make the full trial data publicly available.
Visit the EMA site more information on the EMA investigation.