Our lawyers began reviewing lawsuits after federal regulators announced that the diabetes drug Byetta had been linked to severe pancreatic problems in an increasing number of patients. The Food & Drug Administration received six additional reports of patients developing a dangerous form of pancreatitis while taking Byetta. Two of the patients died and four were recovering. The FDA is now telling patients and doctors to discontinue use of Byetta immediately if they develop signs of acute pancreatitis, a swelling of the pancreas that can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The FDA further warned Byetta users that it is very difficult to distinguish acute pancreatitis from less dangerous forms of the condition. The FDA also said doctors should consider prescribing diabetes drugs other then Byetta for patients with a history of pancreas problems.Byetta and Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer is a serious problem. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. While winning big in their battle with pancreatic cancer, many of these fights end in death. This insidious cancer has the lowest relative survival rate of all cancer: The statistics are chilling: 94% of pancreatic cancer patients will dies within five years and 74% die within the first year of diagnosis.
We have known for some time of pancreatic injuries with Byetta. In 2009, many lawsuits were triggered by the FDA's decision to revise the warning label for Byetta to include information on the possible risk of acute pancreatitis. But in 2011, researchers in California made a frightening finding: the risk of pancreatic cancer was almost 3 times as high with Byetta. In 2011, a group of researchers from UCLA conducted an investigation into the side effects of Byetta and Januvia (another antidiabetic medication).New 2013 Byetta Study
In April 2013, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) released a Quarterly Watch report on GLP-1 Agents which are medications used to treat Type-2 diabetes. The report looked at five widely used drugs including Byetta, Victoza, Januvia, Onglyza, and Tradjenta. Concerns about the dangers of these drugs were raised shortly after these drugs went on the market, and those rumblings have continued over the years. In response, the ISMP performed a comprehensive study of these drugs by looking at the adverse drug event data reported to the FDA over a twelve-month period.
To say the least, the ISMP report is shocking. In one year, 1,723 instances of “serious adverse drug events” were reported to the FDA as a result of taking these drugs. Those “serious events” include pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and renal failure. And while 1,723 is a fairly large number alone, keep in mind that number only includes the cases that were actually reported.
We’ve known about the dangers of these drugs for a while, specifically with Byetta. In 2009, the FDA recommended the makers of Byetta change their warning labels to account for the risk of pancreatitis, an action which triggered a number of lawsuits. And, a 2011 study conducted by UCLA researchers showed that a patient taking Byetta was three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than a patient who wasn’t taking the drug.
This new report shows the dangers may be even greater than previously thought, especially with Byetta and pancreatic cancer. The ISMP report shows that 612 of the 1,723 “serious adverse drug events” dealt with patients who took Byetta. That’s roughly 35% of the total cases. Of those 612 cases, 263 of them were reports of pancreatitis and 71 were reports of pancreatic cancer.
Here’s the problem: the makers of Byetta, in spite of all this data, have failed to acknowledge or recognize the correlation between the drug and the increased risk for cancer.... and to tell doctors and patients. They can make every argument under the sun that Byetta is not linked to cancer, but when 11% of the “serious adverse drug events” for a ONE YEAR period are due to pancreatic cancer, turning a blind eye and criticizing the data is not helping anyone. In fact, it’s killing people.
Here’s why: pancreatic cancer is practically lethal. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. and it has the lowest survival rate of all cancers. And again, it bears repeating, 94% of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years and a chilling 74% die within the first year of diagnosis. So, of those 71 reports of pancreatic cancer caused by Byetta, roughly 5 of those individuals will survive. The other 66 will not. It really is just awful.Plaintiff's Byetta Lawsuits
Plaintiffs' lawyers in these cases claim that Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly failed to warn Byetta users, their physicians, or the general public about the fact that Byetta could cause cancer.
Our lawyers are reviewing these Januvia and Byetta pancreatic cancer cases throughout the country expecting a class action lawsuit will be appropriate. If you want to discuss your case with a lawyer, call us at 800-553-8082 for a free consultation or get an almost instant free Internet consultation on line.
- More Information About Byetta (the history and issues related to Byetta)
- Byetta Kidney Lawsuit (kidney related injuries from Byetta)
- Byetta General Information (great blog post from a nurse on Byetta issues generally)
No one knows the settlement value of these Byetta or Januvia pancreatic cases. There is no certainty in litigation and there is too much yet to learn about how these cases will play out. But many expect these cases to have seven figure settlements and there is a reason for that: pancreatic cancer is just an awful injury.
To get some lens as to what the value of these cases might be, we need to find comparable facts. That's impossible because no two case are alike. But illustrative of the value of pancreatic cancer cases might be looking at other verdicts involving pancreatic cancer:
You do not want to read too much into these verdicts. It bears repeating: no one can predict the value of any claim like this with certainty. But these verdicts may be about what you would reasonably expect a jury to find in a Byetta or Januvia pancreatic case if liability was demonstrated. In fact, you could argue a jury would be even harsher on a drug company than it would on a well-intentioned doctor who made a simple mistake.