Byetta May Help Obese Non-Diabetics, But FDA Stresses Link To Pancreatitis
At least one study has shown that one diabetes medication may be an effective way to drop extra pounds. However, though Byetta weight loss may seem like a positive, welcome side effect of the drug, it is important to be aware of the potential adverse effects as well.
The medication is part of a class known as “incretin mimetics,” and is intended to treat type 2 diabetes by helping blood sugar control in those that suffer from the illness. It gives the pancreas a boost in producing insulin more efficiently; however, it has also been linked to cases of painful inflammation of that same organ.
Research reported in June 2009 revealed the results of a study of how the drug might help obese non-diabetics drop pounds. In concordance with a diet and exercise program, those taking the medication (as opposed to those given a placebo) did lose more. One theory as to how this works is that the medicine causes people to eat less food and increases feelings of fullness.
However, despite this possible benefit, medical professionals stress that the drug has not been approved as a diet aid. Though the experiment above shows progress in this area, it has not yet been determined that it is safe for use in those who do not suffer from diabetes.
Moreover, there are still lingering questions of safety for everyone who takes this prescription. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about potential dangers in 2007, after there were 30 reported cases of pancreatitis. The findings noted the following troubling trends:
• Symptoms worsened when the dose was increased
• 21 of the victims were hospitalized
• 5 of them developed more severe complications such as dehydration, kidney failure, and intestinal obstruction
• 22 reported improvement after they stopped taking the drug
Pancreatitis is a very serious disease that varies in severity, but most often requires hospitalization for treatment, including pain management and fluid and electrolyte stabilization. Surgery or other invasive measures may even be necessary in some cases. Additionally, related conditions often develop, such as the appearance of pseudocysts that can become infected and hemorrhage.
Adverse effects associated with the injectable Byetta medication include:
• Feeling jittery
Additionally, patients should be especially careful to note the signs of pancreatitis. If you experience these symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and increased heart rate. Though the FDA does not recommend that anyone stop taking any medicine without consulting with their doctor, you may want to ask about the risks involved.
For those living with diabetes, health concerns are of utmost importance. Though a medication may seem appealing due to possible off-label benefits, it is essential to consider all of the relevant information. If you have already been diagnosed with one of these disorders and believe it may be linked to the drug, consider seeking out a lawyer as well, as you may be entitled to compensation.