Byetta Lawsuits - Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer

Byetta Lawsuits

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GLP-1 receptor agonist Type 2 diabetes medications like Byetta may increase the risk of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and other potentially life-threatening side effects in users.

Byetta and similar medications belonging to the same class of drugs used to treat patients with Type 2 diabetes have been linked to an alleged increased risk of potentially deadly side effects, including pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. If you took the Type 2 diabetes drug Byetta in the past, and you have since been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, or another major medical complication, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. Contact a knowledgeable Byetta attorney today to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability claim against the maker of the diabetes drug, and pursuing financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

Byetta Alternatives for Type 2 Diabetes

As more information comes to light about the potential for Byetta and other powerful diabetes drugs to cause potentially life-threatening medical conditions like pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer, more and more people across the country are researching natural remedies for managing the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Some possible alternatives to Byetta for diabetes treatment include the following:

  • Acupunture
  • Biofeedback
  • Guided imagery
  • Chromium
  • Ginseng
  • Magnesium
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Antioxidants
  • Biotin
  • Fish oil
  • Ginkgo biloba

What is Byetta?

An injectable Type 2 diabetes medication that has been linked to side effects like pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.

Byetta (exenatide) is an injectable medication that belongs to a larger class of Type 2 diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics, or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Byetta and other GLP-1 receptor agonists are designed to be used in combination with diet and exercise to control blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes, and the drugs function by mimicking the incretin hormones the body normally produces to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal. Byetta was approved by the FDA in 2005, and is currently manufactured by drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, since the company purchased Amylin Pharmaceuticals in 2012. The Type 2 diabetes medication is packaged in a glass cartridge inside a pen-injector, where the active ingredient, exenatide, is mixed with water and an anti-microbial agent. In addition to Byetta, other popular incretin mimetic drugs prescribed to treat diabetes include Victoza (liraglutide), Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin).

Possible Side Effects Leading to a Byetta Injury Lawsuit

Once hailed as an incredible advancement in diabetes management, a growing number of studies have shown in recent years that Byetta may be linked to devastating side effects in users, including pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer. Pancreatitis is a medical condition characterized by swelling and inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to hospitalization and even death in some cases, with a mortality rate of 10% to 30%. According to research, pancreatitis is a whopping 49-times more common in patients taking Byetta and the newer drug Bydureon, than in patients who take other medications in the same class. Some of the most common symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Severe pain in the upper-left side or middle of the abdomen that worsens after eating or drinking
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Abdominal pain that lasts for several days and may radiate to the back

Pancreatitis is a medical emergency and the condition requires immediate treatment. In some cases, pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic cancer, a cancer that is associated with extremely low long-term survival rates, due to the fact that 80% of cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed after tumors have already spread to other organs. Byetta treatment has also been linked to an increased risk of thyroid cancer side effects in some users.

Lawsuits Against Byetta for Pancreatitis, Pancreatic Cancer and Side Effects

August 2008 – The first Byetta lawsuit is filed in the United States, on behalf of a man from Virginia who developed pancreatitis side effects after using Byetta.
September 2012 – The makers of Byetta and Januvia face a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who developed pancreatic cancer after taking the Type 2 diabetes medications.
October 2012 – A Maryland man files a wrongful death lawsuit against Merck, Amylin and Eli Lilly following the death of his wife, who was prescribed Januvia and Byetta to manage Type 2 diabetes in 2005. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009, and died that same year.
January 2013 – A woman from Ohio files a lawsuit against Byetta and Januvia manufacturers, Amylin and Merck, alleging that the Type 2 diabetes medications caused her father to develop pancreatic cancer, which led to his death.
August 2013 – A man from Illinois sues Merck on behalf of his mother, who died of pancreatic cancer after being prescribed the diabetes drug Janumet.
August 2013 – A federal lawsuit is brought against the makers of Victoza and Byetta, on behalf of a woman who took the diabetes medications and subsequently developed pancreatitis.
August 2013 – So many lawsuits involving side effects of diabetes medications are filed in California that a federal court groups the cases together in the Southern District of California for coordinated pretrial proceedings, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
March 2014 – At this time, 325 lawsuits are pending in the federal MDL developed for victims of side effects from Byetta, Januvia, Janumet and Victoza.
August 2014 – Amylin Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca agree to an undisclosed settlement in 84 complaints involving side effects from Byetta and Bydureon, leaving hundreds of additional claims filed by patients diagnosed with pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.

FDA Byetta and Side Effects

October 2007 – The FDA reviews 30 post-marketing reports of pancreatitis side effects in patients taking Byetta, and requires updates on the Byetta warning label to include the risk of acute pancreatitis.

August 2008 – The FDA updates its Byetta safety announcement, this time highlighting reports of six instances of hemorrhagic or necrotizing pancreatitis in patients taking the diabetes medication, resulting in hospitalization in all six cases and two patient deaths.

October 2009 – In response to growing concerns about the potential for Byetta to cause pancreatitis in users, the FDA requires Amylin to conduct additional post-marketing studies on the Type 2 diabetes drug.

November 2009 – The FDA requires Amylin to update the Byetta warning label to include the risk of kidney injury and failure, after receiving 78 adverse event reports involving altered kidney function in patients using Byetta.

2011 – According to adverse event reports submitted to the FDA and compiled by the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), there are more than 400 reports of acute and chronic pancreatitis in patients taking Byetta at this time.

January 2012 – The FDA approves a longer-lasting version of Byetta called Bydureon, after twice rejecting the drug in 2010, due to concerns about heart rhythm abnormalities allegedly caused by the medication.

March 2013 – The FDA publishes a safety alert regarding the possible risk of pancreatic cancer from incretin mimetic diabetes medications.

Byetta Side Effect Studies

January 2008 – A study conducted by researchers from Canada examines the potential risk of adverse cardiovascular events among patients taking exenatide (Byetta).

May 2010 – The American Journal of Medicine publishes a study involving 194 overweight or obese patients with Type 2 diabetes taking Byetta or a placebo, and finds that people who took Byetta lost more weight than the placebo group. The research was funded by Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

May 2010 – The Annals of Pharmacotherapy publishes a study linking Byetta to an increased risk of pancreatitis, highlighting eight known cases of pancreatitis in Byetta clinical trials, and 36 case reports submitted to the FDA.

February 2011 – Research published in the medical journal Gastroenterology indicates that patients who take Byetta may be six times more likely to experience pancreatitis side effects, and these results are consistent with animal studies that also showed an elevated risk. The same study finds a nearly three-fold increase in reported cases of pancreatic cancer among Byetta users, and a five-fold increased risk of thyroid cancer, compared to patients taking another diabetes drug, Avandia.

April 2012 – A review published in Experimental Diabetes Research indicates that Byetta was associated with an increase in the number of cancerous cells in the thyroids of mice, a finding that is supported by adverse event reports submitted to the FDA.

April 2013 – The journal JAMA Internal Medicine publishes research indicating that people with Type 2 diabetes who take drugs in the incretin mimetic class may be twice as likely to suffer from acute pancreatitis, a major risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

June 2013 – The American Diabetes Association (ADA) asks the maker of Byetta to provide patient data on the alleged risk of pancreatic cancer, with the intention of hiring independent researchers to examine the data for a possible link between Byetta treatment and pancreatic cancer.

June 2013 – The British Medical Journal publishes an editorial highlighting the growing body of research linking new diabetes drugs to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

December 2014 – A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience finds that GLP-1 receptor agonists like Byetta may inhibit users’ desire to drink, increasing the risk of dehydration among diabetics, who already face dehydration risks due to elevated glucose levels.

December 2014 – A report published in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel identifies 3,300 deaths and 20,000 hospitalizations tied to the use of certain diabetes drugs from 2004 through March 2014, including 880 deaths and 7,115 hospitalizations associated with the GLP-1 receptor agonist, Byetta.

Why We Think Amylin Pharmaceuticals Should Be Held Liable for Byetta Side Effects

In healthy people, eating causes an increase in blood sugar that stimulates an insulin response from the pancreas. In people with Type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to produce enough insulin to react to a rise in blood glucose, and GLP-1 receptor agonists like Byetta are designed to trigger insulin production in order to regulate sugar levels. However, what many diabetic patients don’t realize is that Byetta and other GLP-1 receptor agonists have been linked to a potential increased risk of pancreatitis possibly leading to pancreatic cancer. As a result, former Byetta users across the country are pursuing legal claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, alleging that:

  • The drug companies had a duty to protect the health and safety of patients
  • The drug makers designed, sold and marketed a defective medication
  • The manufacturing companies failed to adequately research the long-term effects of Byetta use
  • The companies failed to warn consumers and doctors about the potential for Byetta to cause pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and other serious side effects
  • Despite this risk, the drug makers continued to market Byetta as a safe and effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes

What should you do? If you have suffered pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer or another serious side effect, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss filing a Byetta lawsuit.

In light of the potential risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer associated with Byetta and similar diabetes medications, close to 600 Byetta, Victoza, Januvia and Janumet lawsuits have been filed in the federal court system, all of which involve similar allegations that the makers of the controversial drugs failed to provide consumers and the medical community with adequate warnings about the possible side effects associated with their products. If you believe you or a loved one has been adversely affected by side effects of Byetta, contact a reputable product liability attorney today for legal help. You may have grounds to file a Byetta lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb, in order to seek fair and timely reimbursement for your losses.

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