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As reported by the New Jersey Times Ledger, the drug manufacturer Merck has had to respond to inquires from the FDA regarding the cancer risks of its blockbuster diabetes medication known as Januvia. The drug is widely prescribed for Type II diabetes and is in a class of drugs known to cause pancreatitis in some patients. Unlike other drugs in its class, however, Januvia is sold in an injectable form. The injectable form is now implicated in cases of deadly pancreatic cancer.

Inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis, is a know risk factor for pancreatic cancer. However, the waters are muddied in some cases because it is possible that the pancreatic cancer existed first, resulting in the diabetes diagnosis, then the prescription, then the cancer is diagnosed later. I hope this apparently unlikely sequence of events is not being overplayed by the manufacturer Merck in order to avoid a disruption in their sales. I am sure they would say it is not about profits, that the drug helps patients, but we should remember that medications for Type II diabetes do exist in an non-injectable form. A good article on the risks of the medication can be found at the Ring Of Fire Radio website.

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