The controversy about possible pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer being associated with Incretin based therapies has attracted unprecedented scientific and media attention throughout 2013. The question of whether these problems really do happen is extremely important because these disorders are serious disorders and ones that we do not want associated with our treatments. As the issue in question is not trivial the answers and reassurance needs to be particularly robust.

Pancreatitis results from blocking of the natural flow of pancreatic juices used for digestion. A build up of these pancreatic enzymes within the pancreas produce a nasty corrosive inflammation resulting in severe abdominal pain and the need for immediate hospitalisation. Although with good care most people recover there is still a significant mortality and morbidity rate associated with this diagnosis.

Pancreatic cancer occurs sporadically within our population and is regarded within the spectrum of cancer diagnoses as one of the most aggressive and least treatable of all the cancers. We certainly would not prescribe medication if the rate of pancreatic cancer was shown to be increased even to the slightest degree.

The controversy regarding Incretin based therapies and pancreatic cancer has been one of implication rather than any direct evidence. Nevertheless this is an important topic and needs assessment. Reassuringly, there is no current evidence that show that any diabetic drug treatment causes pancreatic cancer.

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