Victoza is a popular type 2 diabetes medication that works by lowering blood sugar levels. Victoza is included in a class of drugs known as "incretin mimetics." These drugs mimic incretin, a natural hormone that boosts insulin production in the pancreas. This increase is crucial for diabetics because insulin prevents sugar from building up in the bloodstream. Used in conjunction with exercise and a proper diet, Victoza helps type 2 diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels.
Victoza, a brand name version of the generic drug liraglutide, is taken daily by injection. Manufactured by Novo Nordisk, the medication was approved for use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. With domestic sales topping $523 million in the third quarter of 2013 alone, Victoza has been a huge success for Novo Nordisk. However, due to recent scrutiny over side effects, sales are expected to drop. In addition, Novo Nordisk may face a number of Victoza lawsuits.
Victoza has been linked to certain serious complications, including thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, and pancreatitis.
The FDA has required that a boxed warning, also known as a black box warning, be included on Victoza labels based on concerns that the drug may cause cancer. The most serious type of warning issued by the FDA, a boxed warning indicates a potentially serious health risk or life threatening complication. In many medical studies, researchers found that Victoza caused tumors, some of which were cancerous, in the thyroid glands of rats and mice. Although tumors haven't been discovered in any studies involving humans, some health care professionals are still concerned that Victoza may increase the risk of cancer. The FDA recommends that until more research is conducted, diabetics should consider other treatments before using Victoza.
Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer
In 2013, the FDA announced that it would begin investigating whether incretin mimetics cause an increased risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. This FDA investigation was prompted by medical studies that linked both conditions with incretin mimetic drugs. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can require hospitalization in severe cases. From evaluating clinical trials, the FDA noted that pancreatitis occurred in patients using Victoza more often than any other diabetes medication. As a result, the FDA required Victoza to include a warning about pancreatitis on its prescription labels. Any patient diagnosed or at risk for pancreatitis should immediately speak with their doctor about discontinuing the use of Victoza.
An unpublished medical study of deceased patients who were on incretin mimetics revealed a possible link to cancer. Some tissue samples from their pancreases had pre-cancerous cells. The FDA has not reached any conclusion whether or not incretin mimetics cause or contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. However, the FDA will continue to evaluate all available data concerning this issue.
Novo Nordisk Legal Liability
In light of the recent publicity surrounding Victoza's side effects, industry analysts expect that patients will file Victoza lawsuits against Novo Nordisk. These lawsuits would likely fall under product liability law, which imposes a duty on manufacturers and sellers to ensure that their products are free from any unreasonable defects or dangers. If successful, a Victoza plaintiff can receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. In order to prevail in a product liability suit, the plaintiff must prove the product was defective and the defect caused his or her injuries.
There are three types of product defects: manufacturing defects, design defects, and warning defects. A common defect claim in these types of cases is defective warnings. Under a warning defect theory, manufacturers have a duty to disclose any dangers that are associated with their products. Here, many plaintiffs argue that Novo Nordisk knew about Victoza's increased risk for pancreatic cancer but failed to warn consumers. The plaintiffs would argue that if they had had a proper warning, they never would have used Victoza in the first place.
Most of the lawsuits against Novo Nordisk concerning Victoza's side effects are still pending. Many more lawsuits are likely to be filed due to the recent news about Victoza's possible connection to pancreatic cancer.
A multidistrict litigation (MDL) concerning Victoza is underway in federal court in California. An MDL is a federal procedure used to consolidate civil cases to a single court for pre-trial proceedings. The Victoza MDL also incorporates other brands of incretin mimetics. The MDL panel decided to combine four competing brands of incretin mimetics into one MDL because the allegations of pancreatic cancer were very similar. In addition, many of the plaintiffs took more than one incretin mimetic drug, so they're likely to call the same witnesses.
If you're considering pursuing a Victoza lawsuit, consult with a product liability attorney to discuss your legal options. It would be wise to do so as soon as possible because many states have statutes of limitations (time limits) on product liability claims.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.