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FDA: Certain DPP-4 Diabetes Drugs May Cause Severe Joint Pains

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning regarding the use of a class of type 2 diabetes medicines that can cause persistent and severe pain on patients' joints.

The agency said on Friday that warnings will be placed on the labels of all types of diabetes drugs known as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors regarding their potential to increase the risk of developing joint pain. Some of the medicines mentioned in the FDA warning include saxagliptin, sitagliptin, alogliptin and linagliptin.

Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors are used to reduce blood sugar levels in adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Treatment programs that feature DDP-4 inhibitors also include having the patient undergo exercise and diet changes.

The FDA stated that type 2 diabetes patients should continue their DPP-4 inhibitor treatment, but they contact their doctor immediately if they begin to experience severe and persistent pain on their joints. The agency also advised health care professionals to consider DPP-4 inhibitors as a potential cause of joint pain and to stop the use of the drugs if needed.

In their study of data and medical literature included in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), researchers from the agency were able to identify severe joint pain cases linked with the use of DPP-4 medicines.

They discovered that patients who took the diabetes drugs began experiencing symptoms from one day to years after starting the treatment. Patients continued to suffer severe joint pains until they stopped taking DPP-4 inhibitor drugs, in which symptoms eventually cease in less than a month. The researchers, however, noted that patients developed symptoms of joint pain once again after they resumed their DPP-4 inhibitor treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration urges patients and health care providers to report side effects associated with DPP-4 inhibitor treatments to the FDA MedWatch program.

Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Inhibitors

According to the FDA, DPP-4 inhibitors help lower blood sugar of diabetes patients by allowing the body to increase its production of insulin after each meal. This hormone helps transfer sugar from the bloodstream into tissues so that the patient's body can use it to produce much-needed energy and maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Aside from severe joint pain, other potential side effects associated with DPP-4 inhibitors include pancreas inflammation, allergic reactions and low blood sugar levels, particularly when these medicines are used in combination with other diabetes drugs.

Photo: Oskar Annermarken | Flickr 

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