Incretin Mimetics MDL Established in California District Court

by AvaL on September 30, 2013

Byetta, Januvia, Janumet and Victoza are all diabetes treatments in a class of drugs known as incretin mimetics. Used to stabilize blood glucose levels in patients who suffer Type 2 diabetes, the medications have been linked to potentially life-threatening side effects including an increased risk of acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Since their launch on the U.S. market, incretin mimetics have been the subject of escalating litigation, with plaintiffs filing Januvia and Byetta lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country. Allegations state that the drug manufacturers knew of pancreatic risks, but failed to adequately warn both consumers and their prescribing health care providers – essentially putting profits over patient safety.

Federal Januvia and Byetta lawsuits consolidated for pretrial proceedings

Following oral arguments that were presented this August, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to coordinate all qualifying incretin mimetic lawsuits involving Januvia, Janumet, Byetta and Victoza as multidistrict litigation (MDL) to help streamline pretrial proceedings and reduce burdens on the federal judicial system. Claims to be centralized as part of the RE: Incretin Mimetics Products Liability Litigation must have been filed in district courts and involve allegations that the medications caused cancer of the pancreas. According to the transfer order that was given on August 26, the Southern District of California has been chosen for the MDL, which will be overseen by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia.

The purpose of multidistrict litigation, which consolidates federal claims involving similar allegations and common questions of fact, is to avoid conflicting judicial rulings and prevent duplicative discovery that may result if the cases didn’t share in the pretrial processes. By coordinating discovery proceedings and pretrial motions before one judge, both the defendants and plaintiffs save money and time. Economy and efficiency are two primary goals of MDL, which typically functions well for civil litigation involving defective medical devices or complex pharmaceutical cases. Plaintiffs’ lawyers can pool resources and coordinate their efforts – helping reduce litigation costs for claimants.

Court dockets show that at least 50 product liability lawsuits involving incretin mimetics and pancreatic cancer have been filed in the federal court system, though the majority of these claims were brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Legal insiders predict the incretin mimetics MDL will grow substantially in the coming months as some studies have indicated that Januvia and Byetta exposure can double the risk of developing acute pancreatitis – a known precursor to pancreatic cancer. As more lawsuits are filed over purported side effects of incretin mimetics, the multidistrict litigation could eventually amass thousands of complaints.

FDA investigates pancreatic cancer risks of incretin mimetics

In March 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a communication stating it was investigating research concerning the safety of incretin mimetics and risks of pancreatic toxicity. Although federal regulators have yet to issue conclusive warnings on pancreatic cancer risks posed to patients who take Byetta, Januvia and other incretin mimetics, it did report on the possibility of increased risks for pre-cancerous findings.

In the safety communication, the FDA states it was currently “evaluating unpublished new findings by a group of academic researchers that suggest an increased risk of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous cellular changes called pancreatic duct metaplasia in patients with type 2 diabetes treated with a class of drugs called incretin mimetics.”

Individuals who developed pancreatic cancer after taking any combination of incretin mimetics and pursued legal recourse are demanding compensation for their related medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity and pain and suffering. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of the disease and has just a five-year survival rate for most patients.

Those who have suffered adverse side effects from Januvia, Janumet, Byetta or Victoza are encouraged to speak with their physician immediately and consult an experienced lawyer about filing a product liability lawsuit. Attorneys throughout the nation are offering free case evaluations to help individuals determine if they may be eligible for recovering damages through filing Januvia and Byetta lawsuits.



Ava Lawson is an Associate Editor for Injury Lawyer News where she specializes in pharmaceutical litigation research and reporting. She is staunch of supporter of patient safety and other issues that do harm to innocent consumers.

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