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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2012 Nov;98(2):271-84. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2012.09.008. Epub 2012 Sep 23.

A meta-analysis of serious adverse events reported with exenatide and liraglutide: acute pancreatitis and cancer.

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Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Centre, AIBILI, Coimbra, Portugal.



The association between GLP-1 agonists, acute pancreatitis (AP), any cancer and thyroid cancer is discussed. This meta-analysis was aimed at evaluating the risk of those serious adverse events associated with GLP-1 agonists in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Library and were searched in order to identify longitudinal studies evaluating exenatide or liraglutide use and reporting data on AP or cancer. Odds ratios (ORs) were pooled using a random-effects model. I(2) statistics assessed heterogeneity.


Twenty-five studies were included. Neither exenatide (OR 0.84 [95% CI 0.58-1.22], I(2) = 30%) nor liraglutide (OR 0.97 [95% CI 0.21-4.39], I(2) = 0%) were associated with an increased risk of AP, independent of baseline comparator. The pooled OR for cancer associated with exenatide was 0.86 (95% CI 0.29, 2.60, I(2) = 0%) and for liraglutide was 1.35 (95% CI 0.70, 2.59, I(2) = 0%). Liraglutide was not associated with an increased risk for thyroid cancer (OR 1.54 [95% CI 0.40-6.02], I(2) = 0%). For exenatide, no thyroid malignancies were reported.


Current available published evidence is insufficient to support an increased risk of AP or cancer associated with GLP-1 agonists. These rare and long-term adverse events deserve properly monitoring in future studies evaluating GLP-1 agonists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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