Pharmaceutical

Top selling type 2 diabetes drugs carry cancer risks

januvia sitagliptin Top selling type 2 diabetes drugs carry cancer risksJanuvia was the top selling diabetes drug in the country for the 12 months ending September 2013, according to IMS Health. Januvia earned $2.8 billion during that period with more than 8.7 million in prescriptions, giving it an overall ranking of 14th on the list of top 100 prescription drug sales.

Sitagliptin is the active ingredient in Januvia. It is also used in combination with metformin in the type 2 diabetes medication Janumet. That drug ranks 47th on the list of top selling pharmaceuticals with $967 million in sales and 3.26 million prescriptions. Actos, which contains the medication pioglitazone, ranks 90th overall with $130 million in sales.

Though Januvia and Actos are best-sellers for drug companies pushing type 2 diabetes medications, the drugs are not without their risks. Three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a specific warning regarding Actos alerting doctors and consumers that studies had linked the medication to bladder cancer. Patients who had used the drug long-term were at even greater risk for developing the life threatening disease.

More recently, studies have surfaced that show Januvia, along with the type 2 diabetes medication Byetta, increased the risk of acute pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. Researchers also noted that the pancreases of deceased patients who had used these drugs but died of causes unrelated to the pancreas, had abnormal cell growth in their pancreases. Scientists cautioned that these abnormal growths could lead to deadly pancreatic cancer.

Source: Diabetes Health