Resource4thePeople announced today its latest update for consumers who are following the progress of lawsuits alleging that a class of diabetes medications including Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza may cause pancreatitis, cancer and other dangerous side effects.
A federal judiciary panel has approved* the consolidation of dozens of these lawsuits** before a judge in U.S. District Court in San Diego and details of the allegations are now being outlined in cases that have been filed there.
Among the lawsuits are one*** filed by a Stamford, Conn. woman who has brought multiple allegations on behalf of herself and other consumers against the manufacturers of the medications, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
"This is the first step in what is called a multidistrict litigation in which numerous lawsuits from across the country making similar allegations against the same defendants are consolidated before a single federal judge in order to streamline the judicial process," said Resource4thePeople.
"What will happen next is that the judge will oversee the pre-trial evidence-gathering and other legal requirements that must be followed before these cases can be settled or go to trial."
Resource4thePeople is also announcing that as these cases proceed its national network of attorneys will continue to offer free consultations to consumers who may have similar allegations in connection with the use of these medications.
Claims involving allegations of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and other side effects attributed to the use of Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza will continue to be eligible for review.
The Connecticut woman's lawsuit alleges that she was prescribed and used Januvia beginning in or around July, 2009 and continued using it until at least January, 2011. She claims she was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has suffered severe physical, economic and emotional injuries as a result of using the drug, according to the case file.
"As a result of the defective nature of Januvia, persons who were prescribed and ingested Janumet, which contains Januvia, for even a brief period of time, including Plaintiff herein, were at increased risk for developing life-threatening pancreatic cancer," she claims in her lawsuit. "Once that cancer spreads, a patient stands just a 1.8% chance of surviving for longer than five years."
She also claims in the lawsuit that "Defendants concealed their knowledge that Janumet, can cause life threatening pancreatic cancer from Plaintiff, other consumers, the general public, and the medical community. Indeed, the manufacturers of Januvia and Janumet do not even mention pancreatic cancer in their drug's respective product inserts."
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation In its order* described the common allegations:
“Plaintiffs in all actions allege that the use of one or more of four anti-diabetic incretin based medications – Janumet (sitagliptin combined with metformin), Januvia (sitagliptin), Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide) – caused them or their decedent to develop pancreatic cancer,” the panel said.
There are at least 53 lawsuits assigned so far to the San Diego court and Resource4thePeople is advising consumers inquiring about their possible claims that they will be eligible to file additional cases in the future as the multidistrict litigation progresses.
Possible links between these medications and pancreatitis and cancer were announced in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration March 14, 2013 health advisory**** that also said officials were conducting an investigation into the medications’ side effects.
The FDA identified these drugs as exenatide (Byetta, Bydureon), liraglutide (Victoza), sitagliptin (Januvia, Janumet, Janumet XR, Juvisync), saxagliptin (Onglyza, Kombiglyze XR), alogliptin (Nesina, Kazano, Oseni), and linagliptin (Tradjenta, Jentadueto).
These medications are known as incretin mimetic drugs and are a commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of diabetes, the FDA said.
“There are a significant number of Americans who treat their diabetes with these medications and the FDA announcement has had widespread ramifications in terms of patients seeking information about their legal options,” said Resource4thePeople.
The FDA said in its advisory that its findings were based on examination of a small number of pancreatic tissue specimens taken from patients after they died from unspecified causes.
The FDA has asked researchers to provide the methodology used to collect and study these specimens and to provide the tissue samples so the agency can further investigate potential pancreatic toxicity associated with the incretin mimetics.
The agency said the medications are used along with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
In its announcement, the FDA reiterated a previous public warning “about postmarketing reports of acute pancreatitis, including fatal and serious nonfatal cases, associated with the use of incretin mimetic drugs exenatide and sitagliptin.”
An agency official also said that a recently published study that examined insurance records also found the use of exenatide or sitagliptin could double the risk of developing acute pancreatitis.
The official said that the Warnings and Precautions section of the drug labels and the patient Medication Guides for incretin mimetics now contain warnings about the risk of acute pancreatitis.
Resource4thePeople also is recommending that consumers update themselves on media reports about the side effects, such as one posted March 22, 2013 by Bloomberg News about the research study and concerns about the safety of the medication as voiced by the FDA earlier and by physicians:*****
“Doctors have been concerned that this category of diabetes treatments may damage the pancreas since the FDA said in 2007 it received a high number of reports of pancreatitis in patients taking Byetta."