Byetta Type II Diabetes Drug
Prescribed to type 2 diabetes patients, Byetta is an injectable medication that lowers blood sugar levels and promotes insulin production. It is a GLP-1 class drug and is occasionally referred to by its chemical name exenatide.
Byetta was created by the drug company Amylin Pharmaceuticals and launched in 2005 after FDA approval. Due to the popularity of Byetta, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) bought Amylin in 2012 to gain the rights to manufacture and sell the drug. With added marketing by BMS, Byetta sales reached $149 million in the last quarter of 2012 alone.
Byetta is administered by injecting it into the abdomen, thigh, or arm twice per day before mealtime. It works by increasing the hormone GLP-1, which can increase insulin production and limit the amount of glucose absorbed by the blood. Unfortunately, it may also lower the body’s defenses against cancer development
In 2007, the FDA first warned the public of the dangers related to using Byetta--a link to pancreatitis. Later, in 2011, researchers at UCLA discovered that subjects given the drug were at a 473% higher risk of developing thyroid cancer and a 290% higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer than those who were not given the drug.
Now, the American Diabetes Association and FDA have both asked for new testing of Byetta to identify additional risks. However, according to a report by the British Medical Journal, the drug manufacturer may be withholding raw data that could expedite the tests.