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Januvia & Byetta Lawsuits Allege Diabetes Drugs Raise Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Designed to help type 2 diabetics control their blood glucose levels, prescription medications Byetta and Januvia have been blamed for pancreatic diseases in some patients, spurring a litany of claims against the drug manufacturers. Clinical studies and adverse event reports have demonstrated a causal link between both diabetes drugs and the onset of thyroid and pancreatic cancer – both aggressive forms of the disease with high mortality rates.

Dozens of patients who’ve suffered these life-threatening side effects are taking legal action in an effort to hold Merck, manufacturer of Januvia, and Eli Lilly/Amylin Pharmaceuticals, maker of Byetta, responsible for producing a medication that put consumers at risk. Januvia and Byetta lawsuits contend that the defendants marketed their products despite knowledge of the drugs’ latent dangers and failed to provide adequate warnings about the increased risk of thyroid and pancreatic cancer as well as pancreatitis.

In 2005, the FDA approved Byetta (exenatide), which is administered as a subcutaneous injection twice a day. Januvia (sitagliptin phosphate) is a once-a-day pill that was cleared for sale in 2006 – it has since become one of Merck’s top selling medications, with sales exceeding $4 billion last year. Since entering the stream of commerce, research has linked both drugs with an increased incidence of pancreatic diseases and thyroid cancer, prompting both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency to begin their own investigations into the safety of Byetta and Januvia.

Allegations cited in Byetta and Januvia lawsuits

Individuals who developed pancreatitis, thyroid or pancreatic cancer after exposure to Byetta and Januvia claim that the manufacturers over-promoted their medications, while failing to warn of serious health risks–putting profits over consumer safety.

The following charges are raised in Januvia and Byetta lawsuit complaints:

  • The defendants failed to sufficiently warn about potential Byetta and Januvia side effects, with no mention of risks for pancreatic cancer on the Byetta labeling
  • The defendants failed to conduct adequate clinical tests on their drugs before launching them on the market
  • The defendants failed to exercise reasonable care and through their actions created unreasonable risks of personal injury to others by distributing dangerous drugs
  • The defendants failed to advise the medical community about the importance of monitoring for initial signs of pancreatic changes, which may have helped patients identify asymptomatic pancreatitis that later becomes pancreatic cancer
  • The defendants failed to issue a product recall after it became evident that the risks outweigh the benefits provided over other, safer diabetes medications on the market
  • The defendants failed to disclose the link between Januvia and Byetta exposure and the increased risk for cancer, despite their knowledge of this risk

Status of Byetta and Januvia litigation

In light of the growing number of patients filing a Januvia and Byetta lawsuit involving cancer, plaintiffs have requested that cases be centralized as multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (In Re: Incretins Products Liability, Sales and Marketing Litigation, MDL 2452) before federal Judge Anthony Battaglia. At present more than 50 product liability cases alleging injuries from Januvia and Byetta have already been filed in state and federal courts throughout the nation, with more than a dozen pending in the California court system.

In MDL, which is a type of consolidated litigation that takes place on the federal level, each Byetta and Januvia lawsuit is filed and brought to resolution separately, as opposed to a class action, where multiple plaintiffs band together and file one case against a common defendant. MDL coordination for pre-trial proceedings helps conserve judicial resources by preventing duplicative discovery and inconsistent rulings in various courts.

Multidistrict litigation may help plaintiffs and their attorneys leverage settlement agreements, depending if mediation is ordered and the potential outcome of bellwether trials – the first cases to be heard before a jury.

In a Byetta or Januvia class action lawsuit, any settlement or verdict must be evenly split by everyone in the class. If the plaintiffs lose the class action and the jury rules in favor of the defendant, they also lose their right to file individual claims in the future. Since injuries from dangerous drugs are often varied in severity and level of complications, a class action suit regarding Januvia and Byetta is not likely.

Damages sought for Januvia and Byetta side effects

Patients who used Byetta or Januvia and were diagnosed with thyroid or pancreatic cancer may be entitled to compensation in a court of law. While a Byetta lawsuit can’t reverse the physical damage caused by the medication, it can ease the financial burdens placed on the patient and his or her loved ones.

Byetta & Januvia lawsuit plaintiffs are requesting monetary relief for:

  • Medical expenses including doctor visits, hospital costs, home care and prescription medications
  • Lost wages for those who are no longer physically able to work
  • Financial support for family members
  • Emotional anguish
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages to deter the manufacturers from future wrongdoing

Potential Byetta and Januvia settlements

Litigation against pharmaceutical giants is often lengthy, and as of yet the defendants have not negotiated Byetta or Januvia lawsuit settlements with any plaintiffs. However, if federal multidistrict litigation is established and the first cases to go before a jury are ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Merck, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb (which acquired Amylin Pharmaceuticals in 2012) may consider settling with claimants to avoid further verdicts that may cost the drug makers millions of dollars.

Talk to a product liability attorney

Januvia and Byetta cancer victims and their families are encouraged to speak with a skilled product liability lawyer to learn more about their options for legal recourse. An experienced attorney will advocate for your rights and do everything in their power to recover the maximum damages owed.

A Byetta and Januvia lawsuit can help those who developed thyroid or pancreatic cancer hold the manufacturers accountable for producing a defective drug and failing to warn of its risks. Families of individuals who died from Byetta and Januvia side effects may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim for the untimely loss of their loved one.