Pancreatic safety in studies of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist albiglutide

Firas Al-Kawas, Michelle Ann Anderson, Robert Enns, Timothy H. Wilson, Susan Johnson, Jason M. Mallory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Albiglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA), reduces glycated hemoglobin with a low risk of hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes. The relationship between GLP-1RAs and risk of pancreatitis is unresolved. This independent, rigorous, expert review of the albiglutide HARMONY Phase III clinical program examined suspected cases of acute pancreatitis. Methods: An independent pancreatitis adjudication committee (PAC), composed of physicians with expertise in gastroenterology and pancreatic disease, was prospectively established to review cases of suspected acute pancreatitis in the HARMONY studies. Results: Patients treated in Phase III trials with albiglutide (n = 2,365), or active or placebo comparators (n = 2,530), averaged 56 years of age with a mean 8.3-year diabetes duration. Across the 8 studies, the PAC reviewed potential cases of treatment-emergent acute pancreatitis in 43 patients. Definite or probable acute pancreatitis was adjudicated for 11 patients (8 albiglutide; 3 active comparators). Most of these were considered by the PAC to be at least possibly related to study treatment (6 of 8 albiglutide cases and 2 of 3 active comparator cases). Both cases in the active comparator group adjudicated as definite or probable pancreatitis with at least a possible relationship to study treatment were in patients treated with a GLP-1RA. The frequency of pancreatitis was higher among patients treated with albiglutide (6/2,365, 0.3%) than with placebo (0/486, 0%) or active comparators (2/2,062, 0.08%). Conclusion: In the HARMONY Phase III program, adjudicated cases of acute pancreatitis were uncommon. However, within the limitations of available data, the incidence of acute pancreatitis with albiglutide appears to be within the range described for other studies of GLP-1RAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-716
Number of pages19
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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