Januvia and Byetta are two of the most popular drugs on the market prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes. But ever since their introduction reports of dangerous side effects including pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer have surfaced. These reports spurred concerns of whether the drugs risks outweigh their effectiveness and have led to numerous lawsuits being filed against the drug makers.
This week the American Diabetes Association (ADA) called for a new evaluation of the clinical data on many of the popular drugs used to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. These drugs include Merck & Company’s Januvia , Novo Nordisk’s Victoza, Byetta and Onglyza from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and AstraZeneca Plc, among others, and have sales of more than $9 billion annually.
The new evaluation is based on the research of Dr. Peter C. Butler, chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In his study, and in follow-up studies he found worrisome changes in the pancreases of laboratory rats used in the study that could lead to pancreatic cancer. Based on his studies, both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency have also begun investigations that could lead to new warnings on the drugs, or even to their removal from the market.
Since being approved – Byetta in 2005 and Januvia in 2006 – the FDA has issued warnings about potential links between the drugs and serious complications such as pancreatic diseases but the drugs were allowed to remain on the market and continue putting patients at risk.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been prescribed these drugs, with Januvia and Byetta being the two most popular. The high incidence people who took the drugs and then developed pancreatic diseases has since led to numerous lawsuits being filed nationwide against the drug’s manufacturers.
In California there are so many cases on file that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California has grouped more than a dozen of the cases together for discovery. In the cases the plaintiffs allege that that Merck, Amylin and Eli Lilly failed to exercise reasonable care and created unreasonable risks of personal injury to others. They also go on to allege that the drug makers knew or should have known that the drugs created a high risk of unreasonable, dangerous side effects, including causing and increasing the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease, which when treated properly patients can still expect to live a full and rewarding life. Pancreatic cancer is virtually untreatable and kills most victims within a year.