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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about possible kidney problems associated with the use of Byetta, a diabetes drug marketed by Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. Byetta, known generically as exenatide, is used in patients with type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar levels without the use of insulin, according to the manufacturer. The drug is supposed to imitate the effects of a human hormone and improves blood sugar levels by several mechanisms that work in concert on the stomach, liver, pancreas and brain.

The FDA received 78 reports of kidney problems in patients using Byetta from April 2005 through October 2008, in Tuesday’s warning.

Byetta’s most common side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which may have contributed to the kidney problems reported. Kidney malfunction can lead to serious or life-threatening illness, according to the FDA.

This is not the first warning issued concerning Byetta. In August 2008, the FDA issued warnings after it received reports of two deaths and six cases of severe pancreatitis.

Byetta should be promptly discontinued if pancreatitis is suspected, the warning said.

Our law firm encourages anyone taking Byetta and experiencing any of the symptoms listed above to check with their doctor. Simple tests may be able to detect if any problems exist. We have been investigating Byetta cases for over a year and continue to review possible cases.

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