Januvia is a once-daily medication prescribed to help lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Also known by the name Sitagliptin, the medication can be used in combination with other diabetes drugs to treat type 2 diabetes, but is not prescribed to treat type 1 diabetes.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California found evidence that Januvia can increase the rate of pre-cancerous changes in the pancreas of diabetic patients. Specifically, Januvia is linked to pancreatic cell growth and damage that has the potential to become malignant.
“These findings are in accord with the rapidly increasing number of reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of pancreatic cancer in patients using these drugs compared with diabetics using other drugs,” reported Public Citizen, a Washington-based public advocacy group, in a Bloomberg article.
In a similar study published in the March 2013 edition of the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes, results showed a 40 percent increase in pancreatic cells and cell damage among 20 diabetics. Out of the 20 study participants, eight were being treated with incretin therapy such as Januvia, while 12 were treated with other diabetes treatment.
Medical professionals have raised concerns about diabetes treatments that may harm the pancreas and lead to dangerous health complications. Complaints concerning serious side effects caused by Januvia were first reported to the FDA in 2009.
Januvia remains a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical for its manufacturer, Merck. It generated approximately $4.1 billion in 2012 worldwide sales, according to the Bloomberg article.