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Consumer Group to FDA: Take Victoza off the Market

Consumer Watchdog Group 'Public Citizen' Challenges Safety of Popular Type 2 Diabetes Drug

Victoza in Clinical Practice

Endocrinologist Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD, says that plenty of drugs effectively treat type 2 diabetes, and he sees no reason to "aggressively defend" the use of Victoza. Compared to drugs that have long and proven safety records, he says, Victoza's safety is not thoroughly established, and he is particularly concerned about inflammation of the pancreas.

"The drug's trial was not long enough to see a sufficient safety record," says Koliwad, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco's Diabetes Center. "How rare is rare enough that we accept safety risks and still give this to our patients? Some medications we do give because they are the best available. Here that is not the case."

Koliwad says that some patients may benefit from Victoza and drugs in its class, but they should be thoroughly counseled prior to taking it. And he says that doctors should look at all of the available drugs before prescribing Victoza and similar medications. For those patients taking it already, Koliwad says they should stay on it if it works and is not causing problems.

"The primary concern should be that you are controlling your diabetes," says Koliwad.

Spyros Mezitis, MD, PhD, agrees.

"If there are no issues, we continue patients on the drug and we continue monitoring them while on it," says Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who prescribes Victoza to patients only after a comprehensive discussion of their family health history, particularly regarding their thyroid.

Mezitis says the drug's label clearly states the safety profile of Victoza, and that the post-marketing safety reports do not yet make a strong enough case for the drug's withdrawal from the market.

"But if studies show that pancreatitis and thyroid cancer are directly related to Victoza, that would be a different story," says Mezitis.

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