For more information or confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Plaintiffs Nearing Death May Get Early Depositions in Januvia and Byetta Lawsuits

Plaintiffs approaching their deaths due to pancreatic cancer now have a process to schedule In Extremis depositions to preserve their testimony for use during Januvia and Byetta lawsuits in federal court against their manufacturers and those of other incretin mimetic diabetes drugs.

Plaintiffs’ claims in Januvia and Byetta lawsuits

There are more than 150 Januvia and Byetta lawsuits in the federal court system filed by those who used the drugs and allege:

  • Byetta and Januvia side effects include causing pancreatic cancer,
  • Their manufacturers failed to adequately research the medications, and
  • Failed to sufficiently warn users and the medical community about the risk of pancreatic cancer.

The reason for the urgency is that survival rates for pancreatic cancer are very poor and normally it may be years before these depositions would take place.  Many of the plaintiffs are expected to die before their cases can go to court.

According to information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database of the National Cancer Institute, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer following the diagnosis is:

  • 31% over the first six months
  • 14% after a year
  • 2% after five years

Byetta (exenatide) is made by Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (an oral medication combining Januvia and metformin) are manufactured by Merck Pharmaceuticals, and Victoza (liraglutide) is made by Novo Nordisk. Lawsuits involving these medications have been centralized for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.

Research into Byetta and Januvia side effects

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in June that it is considering setting up a study, either through the agency or the drugs’ manufacturers, to further study whether medicines for Type 2 diabetes, including Januvia and Byetta, cause pancreatic cell growth that could turn malignant, according to Bloomberg News Service.

A study released in March, led by Alexandra Butler and Peter Butler of the University of California Los Angeles, shows evidence of increased pre-cancerous changes in diabetic patients using incretin mimetics (drugs that copy incretin hormones the body usually produces to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal), Bloomberg News Service reports.

The FDA announced in March it was reviewing unpublished findings by researchers indicating pre-cancerous cellular changes may be associated with incretin mimetics.

Judge seeks to accommodate dying plaintiffs engaged in slow moving litigation process

In an order issued November 5, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin established a process allowing  plaintiffs to schedule early depositions when they are “reasonably near the end of life.”

The first trial dates are not expected for possibly several years. The organizational structure of the MDL is still being established. Attorneys were appointed to serve in various leadership roles in late October. It’s been estimated there could eventually be a few thousand lawsuits centralized in the federal litigation.

In the federal court system, the cases are assigned to U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia in the Southern District of California. Having one judge handle all these cases is expected to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.