FDA Warning On Byetta – Is It Safe?

I had mentioned in a prior post that at the advice of my doctor I had begun taking Byetta to help control my Type2 Diabetes. I have just seen an FDA warning about Byetta causing Pancreatitis in 30 reported cases. So far, no deaths…but do I want to be the first?

Byetta works great for controlling my type 2 diabetes. Made as a synthetic version of the Gila Monster’s saliva, it assists in the way that your stomach empties, causing a slower release of glucose into your system and it also stimulates the part of the brain which sends the signal of feeling full to your stomach.

It has been shown that Byetta can cause modest weight loss in those who take it. Byetta is like an appetite suppressant and a diabetes medication all in one. To good to be true right? Right.

The FDA released a warning earlier this week advising that Byetta has been linked to 30 confirmed cases of acute inflamed pancreatitus. The drug companies, Amylin and Eli Lilly, who co-developed this product will need to add this warning to it’s Byetta warning labels.

Before we all get crazy about the FDA’s warning about Byetta let’s look at the facts:

  • Over 700,000 people use Byetta twice daily and of that amount only 30 cases of pancreatitis have been presented so far
  • Of the 30 cases…none involved death. That’s always a good thing.
  • Only 5 of the 30 cases of pancreatitis involved more serious complications like kidney failure.
  • 22 of the reported pancreatitis cases involved the patient returning to full health once the Byetta was stopped.

I also wonder if the diabetic people in India taking Byetta have been notified about this warning.

The FDA also went on to report that 27 of the 30 cases also had at least one other risk factor for pancreatitis…yeah, I think it’s called Diabetes? Anyway, it seems that while serious, pancreatitis is treatable. If you are aware of the possible risk for pancreatitis while taking Byetta you will be able to spot it at early onset.

Warning Signs Of Pancreatitis

  • Pain in the upper middle part of the abdomen
  • Pain in upper left or upper right of abdomen
  • Pain throughout the abdomen
  • Pain traveling straight to the mid-back region

A bit vague? Yes. So I guess the best advice to follow would be that if you are on Byetta and you start to experience any severe abdominal pain, in any area of the abdomen, that you contact your doctor immediately.

As for me, there was a period of a couple of days that I thought I was going to stop using Byetta all together. Then came the rise in my blood glucose level and I decided that for now, I will continue to use Byetta. The small risk of Byetta induced Pancreatitis seems acceptable faced with the alternative of having high glucose levels causing permanent damage to my organs.

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