A new analysis of clinical trial data indicates that taking a group of type 2 diabetes medications, called gliptins or DPP-4 inhibitors, is associated with around an 80 per cent increased risk of developing acute pancreatitis.
Acute pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed in a short space of time. The most common symptom is a severe, dull pain that feels it is coming from around the top of the stomach. The condition is serious and can be life threatening.
The research included data from over 18,000 patients with type 2 diabetes treated with gliptin medications. The incidences of pancreatitis were compared with a similar number of patients treated with a placebo.
The data was drawn from three different trials which monitored outcomes related to saxaglipti, alogliptin and sitagliptin. The two researchers are from Pasteur University Hospital in Košice, Slovakia and Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel.
The results showed that the patients taking DPP-4 inhibitors had a 1.79 times the risk of developing acute pancreatitis.
The NHS reports that around 25,000 cases of acute pancreatitis occur in the UK each year. Whilst around four out of five cases improve without further problems, there are around 1,000 deaths each year as a result of the condition.
Because acute pancreatitis is relatively rare, patients taking these drugs should not be overly anxious about the news.
Studies, such as this one, are useful for doctors and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to recommend the most appropriate drugs for patients.

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