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Diabetes: exenatide,
a worrying glucose lowering agent

Further to a request by Prescrire, the European Medicines Agency has published a list of sometimes severe adverse effects caused by exenatide. The benefits of this drug seem to be increasingly slender.

When exenatide, a new class of antidiabetic drugs, was launched on the market, Prescrire reported that exenatide might be beneficial in a few rare cases, while emphasising the lack of tangible improvements and of long-term evidence. Since then, adverse effects, including pancreatitis, have been regularly reported and published in Prescrire.

At Prescrire’s request, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) published a report on the adverse renal effects associated with exenatide.

86 adverse effects were reported in 5 months (between October 2006 and March 2007), chiefly renal failure and renal dysfunction sometimes requiring haemodialysis. 65 patients had one or several kidney disorder factors. Among the 47 patients whose progress has been recorded, in 39 cases the kidney disorder improved, generally after treatment with exenatide ceased.

The list of worrying adverse effects associated with exenatide is growing, and its benefits appear increasingly limited.

©Prescrire October 2008

Source: "Exanatide : insuffisances rénales". Rev Prescrire 2008; 28 (299): 664.

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