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01-10-2009 | Diabetes | Article

Use of exenatide does not increase risk for acute pancreatitis


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MedWire News: Treatment of Type 2 diabetics with the glucagon-like peptide 1 analogue exenatide does not significantly increase the risk for acute pancreatitis compared with other antidiabetic drugs, report researchers.

Several spontaneous post-marketing cases of acute pancreatitis in patients treated with exenatide have been reported. However, to date “no biological mechanism of exenatide-induced pancreatitis has been identified,” explained Gary Blomgren (Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc, San Diego, USA) when presenting at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 45th Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria.

In addition, previous studies have shown that Type 2 diabetics appear to be three times more likely to suffer from acute pancreatitis than nondiabetics.

Blomgren and colleagues used data from a large US healthcare insurer database to assess the incidence of pancreatitis in patients prescribed exenatide (n=25,871) compared with those prescribed other antidiabetic drugs (n=356,845) between June 2005 and December 2007. Patients prescribed exenatide were more likely to be female and aged 40-64 years of age than those prescribed other antidiabetic drugs.

The participants were enrolled in a healthcare plan for a minimum of 9 months, during which time they were monitored for incidence of acute pancreatitis defined by International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code 9 577.0.

The researchers report that the relative risk for acute pancreatitis was actually 10% lower for individuals who were current or recent (within 32-62 days) users of exenatide compared with those taking other antidiabetic drugs. Past users of exenatide (more than 62 days ago) were at slightly higher risk, but this was not statistically significant.

“These data suggest that use of exenatide was not associated with an increased rate of acute pancreatitis compared to other antidiabetic drugs,” conclude the investigators.

Blomgren cautioned, however, that diagnosis of acute pancreatitis may not have been entirely accurate as some cases may have been misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Also, other data for the participants that could influence the incidence of pancreatitis, for example body mass index, was limited.

“We’re trying to address this by a secondary part of the analysis, which is ongoing, which is the medical record review of the cases of pancreatitis,” said Blomgren. He added that further studies on this topic are also planned.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Helen Albert