Diabetes Drug Liraglutide (Victoza) May Cause Thyroid Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to consumers this week regarding the potential risks associated with use of the diabetes drug, liraglutide (Victoza). Specifically, the agency warns that use of the drug may increase the risk for patients to develop thyroid cancer and pancreatitis. In addition to announcing the safety alert, the agency has directed the drug’s maker, Novo Nordisk, to issue a letter to healthcare professionals, informing primary care providers about the potential risks associated with use of their product.

Use of liraglutide caused thyroid C-cell tumors to develop in rats and mice exposed to levels of the drug similar to those used clinically. The risk of developing this condition rises with dose and duration of treatment.

The FDA urged patients with a history of pancreatitis, as well as a personal or family history of thyroid cancer to approach use of liraglutide with extreme caution. If patients exhibit any signs or symptoms associated with these serious conditions, they should immediately stop using liraglutide and consult their physician.

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