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Diabetes drugs 'double risk of hospitalisation' from acute pancreatitis

Patients with type 2 diabetes taking sitagliptin or exenatide have double the risk of being hospitalised for acute pancreatitis, compared with those not taking the drugs, say researchers.

The study

A US database was used to gather data on 1,269 cases of patients with type 2 diabetes that had suffered an incidence of acute pancreatitis. Patients were aged 18 to 64 years and were matched with 1,269 controls that had not suffered acute pancreatitis. Patients exposed to sitagliptin or exenatide were split into current users – those exposed within 30 days before the date of pancreatitis onset – and recent users – those exposed from 30 days to two years.

The findings

Current and recent use of sitagliptin or exenatide was associated with a more than two-fold increase in the likelihood of being hospitalised for acute pancreatitis, compared with non-use. Patients who had used any of the two study medications at any time during treatment also had a more than two-fold increase in the risk of hospitalisation due to acute pancreatitis, compared with non-users.

What does it mean for GPs?

The Maryland-based researchers concluded that the findings suggest ‘a significantly increased risk of hospitalisation for acute pancreatitis associated with the use of sitagliptin or exenatide among adult patients with type 2 diabetes.’ But a spokesperson from Merck Sharp and Dohme Ltd. - manufacturer of sitagliptin - said the weight of all available evidence ‘supports the current safety profile of sitagliptin’.

JAMA Internal Medicine 2013, online 25 February

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