Nearly 25 million of Americans have type 2 diabetes, and many of them rely on medications to manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, these medications can sometimes do more harm than good. Byetta, a brand name version of the generic drug exenatide, has recently come under scrutiny for a possible connection to cancer. As a result, many Byetta lawsuits have been filed against the drug's manufacturer.
Byetta General Information
Byetta is injected twice daily to treat type 2 diabetes. It's part of a class of drugs known as incretin mimetics, which help control blood sugar by mimicking a natural hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 increases insulin production, which results in lower blood sugar levels. Insulin regulates blood sugar by converting blood sugar into energy. In addition, Byetta may assist type 2 diabetes patients with weight loss. Byetta suppresses appetite by delaying the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine. This results in patients feeling full faster. This is noteworthy because being overweight increases the risk for pancreatic cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Byetta in 2005. Byetta was originally manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals but was subsequently purchased by Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, for an estimated $5.3 billion in 2012.
Possible Cancer Link
In March of 2013, the FDA announced that it would begin to investigate whether incretin mimetics, such as Byetta, increase the risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and pancreatic cancer. This decision was prompted by past medical studies that suggested the use of Byetta increases the risk of cancer. For example, in 2011, the medical journal Gastroenterology published a research study reporting that patients taking Byetta had a nearly three-fold increase in reported cases of pancreatic cancer. However, the FDA has stressed that it has not made a conclusion whether or not incretin mimetics cause or contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. According to the agency, more time is needed to collect and analyze data.
The FDA recommends that Byetta users continue to take their medication as directed until they talk to their health care professionals. Health care professionals should monitor their patients to ensure that they're using the drugs as prescribed.
Legal Implications for Bristol-Myers Squibb
An individual who believes he (or she) has been injured by Byetta can turn to the legal system for help by filing a Byetta lawsuit. Many of these Byetta lawsuits are based on product liability laws, which impose a duty on manufacturers and sellers to ensure that any products they place on the market are free from unreasonable dangers or defects. For a product liability lawsuit to be successful, the plaintiff must prove two elements: first, that the product was defective, and second, that the defect caused his or her injuries.
In product liability cases, a common claim is that the product in question carried defective warnings Manufacturers and sellers have a duty to warn consumers of any possible dangers associated with their products. If manufacturers fail to provide an adequate warning, they can be held liable for any injuries that result. For example, some patients have alleged that Byetta carried inadequate warnings about the risk of cancer. The patients contend that had there been adequate warnings about this risk, they wouldn't have used Byetta in the first place.
Wrongful death could be another common legal claim in a Byetta lawsuit. A wrongful death claim allows close relatives of a deceased individual to sue the party responsible for the death. In a successful wrongful death suit, surviving relatives can recover medical and funeral expenses as well as compensation for the loss of financial and emotional support. If the FDA's investigation concludes that there's a link between drugs like Byetta and cancer, a number of wrongful death suits may be filed against Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Many Byetta lawsuits have already been filed in state and federal courts against Bristol-Myers Squibb. The federal court cases involving Byetta are in the process of being converted into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). An MDL is a federal court procedure used to consolidate multiple civil cases involving similar issues against a common defendant into a single case for pre-trial proceedings. As of May 2014, many cases are still pending, and there haven't been any significant verdicts or settlements concerning Byetta.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.