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Doctor at UCLA Fights Against Januvia

En Español

Head of the endocrinology department at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Peter C. Butler, has testified against the use of Januvia (sitagliptin) in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. When prompted by manufacturers to perform clinical tests on rats with  Januvia, Butler originally refused: “I’m not interested in your money, go away”. However, aware of the possible complications associated with incretin mimetic class medications Butler felt compelled to conduct the study in order to inform persons of the dangers and perhaps draw a conclusion on these theories.

pancreatic symptomsDr. Butler Examines the Effects of Januvia

Dr. Butler began his studies in 2008. According to Butler, studies indicated several issues regarding both the approval and use of Januvia as a treatment. A few of the main concerns included:

  • FDA side effects comparisons– Butler found that the types of side effects reported for incretin mimetics such as Januvia and Byetta were far greater and more severe than type-2 diabetes drug Avandia. More patients who had taken an incretin mimetic developed pancreatic symptoms, specifically pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
  • reports of organ donor deaths– Many reports from health insurance companies indicated little or no increase in the risk of pancreatic side effects while taking incretin medications. On the other hand, recent studies attested that patients receiving incretin mimetics faced a doubling in this risk. Butler performed an examination on the pancreases of 34 organ donors, 8 of which had taken either Januvia or Byetta. Dr. Butler states that the patients who had been treated with these incretin mimetics had much heavier pancreases due to cell overgrowth. The pancreases showed signs of precancerous lesions and one even had a neuroendocrine tumor (form of pancreatic cancer).
  • clinical trials versus actual treatments– Dr. Butler claims that both the animals and humans tested in lab trials are generally much more healthy and able than people who are prescribed the treatments. He suggests that this would account for the low numbers of side effects reported by FDA tests. Therefore, these experiments cannot rule out that there may be a severe risk of pancreatic reactions involved in incretin mimetic therapies.

Butler Warns the Public

Since his studies, Dr. Butler will not prescribe nor recommend the use of incretin mimetics as a treatment for type-2 diabetes. Other professionals support these findings. Dr. Fred Gorlick of Yale’s medicine and biology department says that the research “raised several red flags.” NY Times indicates that since Butler is an expert as well as a former editor of Diabetes, part of the journal released by the American Diabetes Association, the data will not be easily disregarded. Yet, other experts in the field deem the studies as inconclusive.

More information will be released in the upcoming months. Dr. Butler plans to continue his studies to determine the effects of incretin mimetics on the pancreas.




New York Times

Virtual Strategy Magazine