WALTHAM, Mass. — A new medical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the popular type 2 diabetes medication Januvia may not have serious negative effects on patients’ hearts.
Nevertheless, it may be too soon for diabetes patients who take this drug to celebrate since it appears to still be linked to pancreatic and other gastrointestinal complications.
The Januvia heart study took place over a period of three years and monitored the effect of the diabetes medication on nearly 15,000 diabetes patients with previous heart conditions; the study concluded that patients who actually received the drug were no more likely to experience a serious cardiac event, such as heart attack or stroke, than patients who received a placebo. Instead, the patients who received the placebo were slightly more likely to experience a serious cardiac event.
Januvia (which is also known as sitagliptin) works by producing more insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Unlike other diabetes medications, Januvia works by inhibiting dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (or DPP-4), and it can also be taken orally instead of injected.
Additionally, it is less likely than other diabetes medications to result in weight gain or hypoglycemia. Januvia may also be sold under the name Janumet, a pill that combines Januvia with another diabetes drug known as metformin, which is used to control blood sugar levels.
Although Januvia was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for use in treating type 2 diabetes, the drug has been linked to several serious side effects.
The research clearing Januvia of negative cardiac side effects is great news for all patients who take this drug as well as their families and friends, but several lawsuits against Januvia’s manufacturer, Merck, are still pending.
Many of these lawsuits remain unaffected by the new research because they allege that taking it resulted in the plaintiff receiving pancreatic complications such as acute pancreatitis, which is a life-threatening condition that results in an inflamed pancreas, or even pancreatic cancer.
Januvia has also been linked to kidney problems and infections.
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