Type 2 diabetics taking Byetta, a drug that promises to lower blood sugar, may be at increased risk for serious kidney problems, the U.S. Food and Drug administration said in November.
The problems can include kidney failure, which can in some cases lead to death. After just two years on the market, the drug was linked in 2007 to an increased risk of pancreatitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas.
Over seven million prescriptions for Byetta were written between the drug's debut in 2005 and September of 2008. The injected drug is popular among both doctors and users because it's easier to administer than insulin and it causes weight loss in some patients.
The most common side effects people taking Byetta experience include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The FDA says the side effects may have contributed to the deterioration in kidney function in the 78 reports of kidney problems. When a kidney malfunctions, it can result in increased levels of waste products in the blood, leading to significant illness or even life-threatening conditions.
To help doctors and patients better understand the known benefits and risks of Byetta, the FDA has worked with Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., the San Diego-based makers of Byetta, to update the drug's label.
The FDA warned Byetta users to be aware that kidney problems can lead to changes in the color of your urine, the frequency of urination or the amount expelled, swelling of the feet or hands, fatigue, alterations in appetite or digestion, and dull pain in your mid to lower back.
Anyone who takes Byetta and experiences any of these symptoms should immediately consult their doctor.
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