If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, you may have been prescribed the drug Byetta. Byetta was touted as a safe, effective way to keep insulin levels up, and quickly became a popular choice for diabetics. But the patients taking this drug did not know that Byetta puts them at high risk for pancreatic cancer, an aggressive and often lethal form of cancer.
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer while taking Byetta, you need to speak to an attorney. The makers of Byetta, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, did not adequately warn patients of the risk of cancer. You may have a right to recover the full costs of all your medical treatment, as well as ongoing care, medicine, time missed at work, and pain and suffering.
The attorneys of John Foy & Associates are here to help you. John Foy & Associates is one of the largest, most experienced medical injury law firms in the country, with a long history of winning recoveries for our clients. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get a free consultation today.
What is Byetta used for?
Byetta is used specifically to treat type 2 diabetes. In diabetes, a person’s body is either not able to produce enough insulin, or not able to properly use the insulin they have. Insulin is a natural compound made in the pancreas that helps your body absorb glucose, or blood sugar, as a source of energy. Without this process, glucose builds up in the blood and can cause lasting harm, coma, or even death.
Byetta was marketed as an easy to use, effective way to get insulin levels where they need to be. It is sold as an injectable medicine in a simple “pen” device. When a diabetic injects themselves with the pen, it causes their pancreas to increase insulin production, ultimately lowering blood sugar.
What makes Byetta different than other diabetes treatments?
Byetta is part of a new class of medications referred to as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) therapy.
GLP-1 is a substance that the pancreas starts making as soon as food enters your stomach. GLP-1 stimulates the pancreas to produce higher levels of natural insulin, preparing for the influx of blood sugar from your meal. People with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough GLP-1, which is part of why they do not produce enough insulin.
Byetta (generic name exenatide) is a synthetic form of GLP-1. It is based on a similar hormone found in lizards. When injected, it essentially hijacks the pancreas and forces it to produce higher levels of insulin. Unfortunately, it also has potentially disastrous health effects on the pancreas itself.
How does Byetta increase the risk of pancreatic cancer?
Byetta increases the risk of pancreatitits. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. Besides insulin, the pancreas produces a variety of digestive enzymes for the small intestine, and during pancreatitis these enzymes overwhelm the pancreas and begin to damage it. All pancreatitis is serious, even short term cases. Long term, it increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer often shows no early symptoms, making it hard to detect until it has become advanced. Existing cancer treatments do not work well on pancreatic cancer. It is often lethal.
It appears that Byetta first causes inflammation and pancreatitis, and over time, exposes the patient to a much higher risk of cancer. Since Byetta forces pancreas cells to produce insulin when they otherwise wouldn’t, it can be likened to making the pancreas work overtime until it gets sick.
Did Amylin Pharmaceuticals know that Byetta causes cancer?
Yes, the company has known for years.
Byetta was first approved by the FDA in 2005. From the start, there were alarming reports of adverse events, particularly cases of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Since then, research has confirmed the link. One study in the journal Gastroenterology looked at cases as far back as 2004, before Byetta was even on the open market, and found a link with higher rates of both pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Research published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, re-confirmed the link, even when controlling for existing health problems among diabetics.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals ignored this information as it emerged. Their response was to:
- Not voluntarily recall the medicine,
- Not add warnings, and
- Not educate the medical community
Had they simply warned doctors of the problem, patients’ pancreas health could have been monitored while on Byetta. This would likely have saved lives. Instead, they pushed to get approval for a stronger, longer acting version of the drug, called Bydureon, which makes the pancreas work even harder.
What should I do if I developed pancreatic cancer while taking Byetta?
If you may have been harmed by taking Byetta or Bydureon, you should speak to a lawyer. The FDA can take years to react to new information on a drug and it may never require adequate warning for Byetta. Even if regulations do improve, it will not help patients who have already developed pancreatic cancer. Instead, those patients should seek a legal remedy.
John Foy & Associates is currently investigating potential lawsuits against Amylin Pharmaceuticals. We believe that Amylin’s product is unreasonably unsafe, and that Amylin failed to take proper action to warn patients. This makes them negligent under the law, and they are liable for the damage they have done.
A lawsuit cannot remove a serious disease, nor can it bring back a loved one. But it can remove the financial burden associated with this difficult time. A Byetta lawsuit may help you pay for medical bills, medicine, care, and lost work time among other expenses.
At John Foy & Associates we do not charge clients up front and we don’t charge a penny unless we win you a financial recovery. Your lawsuit comes with zero risk to you. But it is time sensitive. There are tight deadlines for medical cases and you need to act quickly to be eligible for a recovery.
Let us give you a FREE consultation. We always take the side of families and individuals, never large drug companies. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get your FREE consultation today.