Use of a class of widely prescribed medications for type 2 diabetes is tied to severe joint pain in some patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Friday.
The drugs — sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), linagliptin (Tradjenta) and alogliptin (Nesina) — come from a newer class of medications called DPP-4 inhibitors.
The drugs can be taken alone or used in conjunction with other diabetes drugs, such as metformin. DPP-4 inhibitors help fight type 2 diabetes by boosting the amount of insulin the body produces after each meal, when blood sugar levels are typically high.
However, in a statement, the FDA said the medications “may cause joint pain that can be severe and disabling,” and the agency “has added a new Warning and Precaution about this risk to the labels of all medicines in this drug class.”
The FDA stressed that patients who take a DPP-4 inhibitor should not stop using the drug, “but should contact their health care professional right away if they experience severe and persistent joint pain.”
Doctors and other health-care workers should “consider DPP-4 inhibitors as a possible cause of severe joint pain and discontinue the drug if appropriate,” the agency said.
Type 2 diabetes, which is often but not always linked to obesity, affects about 95 percent of people with diabetes. As the FDA noted, “when untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious problems, including blindness, nerve and kidney damage, and heart disease.”
There’s more on type 2 diabetes at the American Diabetes Association.