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Lawyers Seek Consolidation of Diabetes Drug Lawsuits in Federal Court

recallsLast Thursday, attorneys urged the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate over fifty diabetes drug lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. These lawsuits involve four diabetes drugs in particular: Janumet® and Januvia®, manufactured by Merck Sharpe & Dohme; Victoza®, manufactured by Novo Nordisk Inc.; and Byetta®, manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. These lawsuits claim that these incretin-based drugs – used to treat Type 2 diabetes – pose an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Defendants deny a definitive scientific link between their products and pancreatic cancer; however, since the first incretin-based drug became available in 2005, concerns have mounted regarding potential side effects. In 2007, the FDA received 30 reports of acute pancreatitis in patients taking Byetta®, prompting its manufacturer to amend the drug’s warning label. By 2009, the FDA had mandated similar changes to prescribing information for Janumet® and Januvia®. In March 2013, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that users of Januvia® and Byetta® are twice as likely to develop acute pancreatitis. Soon thereafter, the FDA launched an investigation into whether there is an increased risk of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous changes to the pancreas in patients taking incretin-based drugs.

The decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on whether or not to consolidate these federal lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California is still pending.


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