Big Pharma giants, Merck & Co. and Bristol Myers-Squibb Co., have been outed by several independent researchers indicating the dangers of their Type-2 diabetes therapy drugs. The exposure has come in the wake of findings that Type-2 diabetes drugs Byetta (Bristol-Myers Squibb) and Januvia (Merck) were linked to pancreatic cancer.

NewsInferno reported that the drug companies willfully hid the information about the potentially fatal dangers associated with taking these drugs. Even the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) has not been completely forthright in making this important information about Type-2 diabetes therapies (incretin mimetics) openly available.

According to a report from the British Medical Journal, a former FDA reviewer found that “there had been no warnings . . . at all about sitagliptin (Januvia) and pancreatic disease.” The reviewer then contacted the FDA and questioned them about why they essentially fell short of properly warning about the associated effects of the drug. The FDA “seemed to be defending the companies” reported the reviewer. The FDA was also asked about “the database showing a signal for pancreatic cancer,” at which point they “ended the conversation.” Shortly after the interview, the FDA released a safety alert for Januvia and pancreatitis.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices found that GLP-1 receptor agonists, like Byetta, increase the chance of pancreatic cancer nearly 28 fold. The drugs in the GLP-1 class react to the body by increasing the pancreas’ insulin production as the receiving patient eats. Over time, this interaction will begin to cause asymptomatic pancreatitis, which increases the risk of, or causes, pancreatic cancer. Januvia interacts with the pancreas in very much the same way.

Januvia is an orally-taken DPP-4 inhibitor. Like with Byetta, the drug will increase the pancreas’ insulin production, which will lower the liver’s glucose production, anytime the receiving patient eats. The U.S. National Library of Medicine indicated that “dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) is a ubiquitous, membrane-bound enzyme that has roles in . . . cancer growth.” It was also found when compared to other Type-2 diabetes therapies, sitagliptin (Januvia) increased the risk of pancreatitis sixfold.

“The responsibility of researching and bringing to light the possible dangers should not have to fall on the shoulders of outside scientific research groups,” said Brandon Bogle, pharmaceutical litigation attorney with Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A. “Although these outside groups have done the public an invaluable service, regulators and the companies that produce these deadly drugs need to be accountable for their own products and keep the public informed.”     

To date, hundreds of plaintiffs have filed suit against the Big Pharma companies that are producing drugs causing illness and, sometimes, death.

Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.