QuarterWatch™ Reports

Perspectives on GLP-1 Agents for Diabetes

This issue of QuarterWatch™ focuses on five widely used drug treatments for Type 2 diabetes, exenatide (BYETTA), liraglutide (VICTOZA), sitagliptin (JANUVIA), saxagliptin (ONGLYZA), and linagliptin (TRADJENTA). These drugs are known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agents because they mimic or increase the availability of GLP-1 in regulating blood sugar levels. Given emerging safety concerns about this increasingly prescribed class of drugs, we examined their safety profiles over 12 months of adverse drug event data.

We identified signals for pancreatitis for all five GLP-1 agents and for reported pancreatic cancer for three of five agents. In addition, signals were seen for reported thyroid cancer for the two injectable agents and for hypersensitivity for one oral agent.

QuarterWatch™ is an independent publication of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). We analyze computer excerpts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). These reports (best known as MedWatch reports) are a cornerstone of the nation’s system for monitoring the safety of prescription drugs after FDA marketing approval.