Q: What is Victoza?
Victoza is a daily injection medication for people with type 2 diabetes. When paired with exercise and a proper diet, Victoza helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels. A brand name version of the generic drug liraglutide, Victoza was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. In the four years since it hit the shelves, the medication has proven immensely popular and became a financial success to its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. In fact, revenue from domestic sales of Victoza surpassed $523 million in the third quarter of 2013 alone. However, analysts predict that future sales of the drug will decline based on negative publicity surrounding Victoza side effects.
Q: How does Victoza work?
Type 2 diabetes impairs the body's ability to produce insulin, a hormone that prevents sugar from building up in the bloodstream. Victoza is part of a class of drugs known as "incretin mimetics." These drugs mimic the natural hormone incretin, thereby increasing insulin production in the pancreas.
Victoza may also aid in weight loss. Victoza slows down the movement of food in the stomach, causing a delay in digestion that suppresses one's appetite. This change of pace can allow an individual to feel more fully satisfied and less hungry after a meal.
Q: What are common Victoza side effects?
All medications have potential side effects. In clinical trials of Victoza, the most common side effects reported were diarrhea, nausea, headache, and allergic hives.
Q: What are some serious complications associated with Victoza?
Victoza has been linked to some serious, potentially life-threatening complications. Information on some of the most serious of those concerns is included here.
Based on the findings of several animal studies, the FDA announced that Victoza caused tumors -- some of them cancerous -- in the thyroid glands of rats and mice. As a result, the FDA placed a black box warning, the agency's most stringent warning, on Victoza's product labels as a cautionary measure. However, the FDA made it clear that there has been no evidence that Victoza causes tumors in humans. Nonetheless, the FDA recommended that Victoza shouldn't be considered a first option by diabetes patients until there is more clarity about the drug. Further, the FDA advised that patients with thyroid cancer or a family history of thyroid cancer should not take Victoza at all.
Another serious complication associated with Victoza is pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. The FDA announced that in clinical trials, pancreatitis occurred more often in patients who took Victoza than in patients taking any other diabetes medication. However, the FDA cautioned that the sample sizes used in the trials were too small to draw conclusions about a possible link between the drug and pancreatitis. For the time being, the FDA recommends that doctors and patients be aware of this potential risk. Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe stomach pain, back pain, and vomiting. Left untreated, pancreatitis can be fatal.
In 2013, the FDA announced that it would launch an investigation to determine whether incretin mimetics increased the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. This investigation was fueled by a report from medical researchers who purportedly found pre-cancerous cells in tissue samples taken from deceased patients who had used incretin mimetics. The FDA has asked the researchers for a description of their methodology as well as tissue samples for independent verification. As of May 2014, the FDA has not yet taken a position on whether or not incretin mimetics pose an increased risk of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. Patients taking incretin mimetics are advised to continue doing so until further notice.
Q: What are my legal claims against Novo Nordisk?
Victoza users who believe the medication has harmed them may be able to file a lawsuit against Novo Nordisk. Injured plaintiffs could receive compensation for their injuries, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Many of these lawsuits will fall under the auspices of product liability law, which imposes a duty on manufacturers and sellers to ensure that the products they place in the market are free from unexpected dangers or defects. For a products liability suit to succeed, the plaintiff must prove two elements: first, that the product was defective, and second, that this defect caused his or her injuries.
If you're considering taking legal action against Novo Nordisk due to Victoza side effects, you should consult with a product liability attorney to discuss your interests. Time is of the essence, as 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.