A major focus of the recent meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes focused on the risks and benefits of so-called incretin mimetics, a class of type 2 diabetes drugs that include glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. The diabetes experts zeroed in on whether the drug increased the risk for cardiovascular events or pancreatic disease including acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
The concerns were timely. GLP-1 and DPP-4 drugs are relatively new treatments for Type 2 diabetes. In 2005, Byetta became the first GLP-1 drug to be approved by the FDA. A year later, the agency approved Januvia, making it the first DPP-4 drug to be approved.
The European Association for the Study of Diabetes chose to focus on the risks and benefits with incretin mimetics after a study published in March 2013 found an increased risk of pancreatic abnormalities in patients who used the drugs. Researchers concluded that incretin therapy resulted in a potential for abnormal cell growth, which could evolve into tumors. The greatest risk was seen with Byetta and Januvia.
Incretin mimetics are not the only diabetes drugs to be associated with an increased risk of cancer. Studies have shown that Actos increases the risk for bladder cancer. Actos is in a class of diabetes drugs known as thiazolidinediones (TZDs).
Cardiovascular risk with diabetes drugs has been a top concern for drug regulators since 2010, when the type 2 diabetes drug Avandia, another TZD drug, was banned in several countries and severely restricted in the United States after the drug was linked to fatal heart attacks. During the meeting, diabetes experts found that DDP-4 drugs did not have a positive or negative effect on cardiovascular risk.
Source: MedPage Today