Victoza (Liraglutide, NN2211) and Cancer Concerns

With nearly 350 million people being affected by diabetes, scientists are busy trying to find alternative treatments and medications to replace older diabetes medications to keep up with the rising number of people being diagnosed. One medication that was developed and approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2009, and later approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) in 2010, has recently been put under the spotlight for its cancer concerns. The drug Liraglutide, marketed under the name Victoza, has been launched in several countries including the US, UK, India, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Japan, Canada and several others and fills nearly 150,000 prescriptions each month. It was developed by a company by the name of Novo Nordisk to treat individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The drug is injected and reportedly works by mimicking hormones GLP-1, which is responsible for initiating the production of insulin when blood sugars increase to dangerous levels.  It has been proven to stimulate insulin release when blood glucose levels are heightened, lower triglycerides, decrease appetite, maintain body weight, and regenerate beta cells. Some of the mild side effects of Victoza include headache, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and cold symptoms. Some of the more serious side effects include swelling or a lump in the throat, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, pancreatitis, and signs of infection. It is recommended that people experiencing any of the serious side effects seek emergency medical attention.

After a panel review conducted by the FDA found a significant amount of laboratory cases involving mice and rats showing an increase in malignant or cancerous cells, consumer advocacy groups have taken action to have Victoza removed from the market. Novo Nordisk did not deny the fact that the laboratory experiments were yielding such results, but did state that it is unclear as to whether or not the results were consistent with human subjects. Consumer groups are stating that Victoza places people at risk for thyroid cancer, kidney failure and that there have been thousands of reported cases of pancreatitis. It is believed that Victoza blocks the passage of digestive enzymes by overproducing pancreatic duct cells which causes the pancreas to become inflamed and can become fatal if left untreated. It also puts people at severe risk for pancreatic cancer.

There hasn’t been any scientific proof that over time Victoza does cause cancer, but then again Victoza has only been on the market for three years so there is little data available for long term consequences of this drug. If you are currently taking Victoza, or plan on taking it, please offer your feedback.

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