Victoza (Liraglutide) is an antidiabetic drug which was approved by the the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2010. Finally on June 13, 2011 FDA decided to warn healthcare professionals to closely monitor patients receiving this anti-diabetic drug for thyroid C-cell tumors and acute pancreatitis.
C-cells are special cells in the thyroid gland, which produce a special hormone called calcitonin, which is a calcium lowering hormone. Cancer of these cells is called medullary thyroid cancer, a rare but one of the most malignant thyroid cancer.
A potentially life-threatening condition which causes acute upper abdominal pain, often accompanied with nausea and vomiting and usually radiates to the back.
When Victoza (liraglutide) was first approved and I saw the drug package insert warning about the potential for medullary thyroid cancer, I decided not to prescribe it to any of my patients. My guess is any endocrinologist who have dealt with medullary thyroid cancer patients would have decided along the same line.
I am glad finally FDA is warning physicians especially primary care physicians about these potential but very serious side-effects of this drugs.
It also reminds me of a very wise statement: There is not a problem till there is a problem-solver.
This article was written by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, FACE. Dr. Zaidi specializes in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Dr. Zaidi is a former assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
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