Shortly after Byetta was approved in 2005, questions about the risk of pancreatitis arose for that and other diabetic drugs such as Januvia. Now, new and more serious is the possible risk of pancreatic cancer, a virtually untreatable disease that kills most victims within a year.
With annual sales of more than $9 billion dollars, the futures of Januvia and other drugs in its class are being threatened due to latest studies by Dr. Peter C. Butler. A former editor of Diabetes, the flagship journal of the American Diabetes Association, he is not easy to ignore. Though he faces powerful opponents in the makers of the drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency have begun investigations based on his latest study that could lead to new warnings on the drugs, or possibly their removal from the market altogether. On the other hand, they may make no impact at all.
Byetta and Januvia, as well as other drugs in the class known as incretin mimetics, are used by hundreds of thousands of people with Type 2 diabetes. These drugs increase the level of incretin hormones in the body which in turn, raises insulin production in response to meals and decreases the amount of glucose (sugar) that the liver produces.
But, after his 2008 discovery of some worrisome changes in the pancreases of rats, changes that could lead to pancreatic cancer, Dr. Butler felt he was obliged to pursue it. Chairman of endocrinology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Butler has been compared to the cardiologist whose warnings about Avandia, a different type of diabetes drug, led to its being banned in Europe and highly restricted in the United States. Yet still some critics say that Dr. Butler overstates his conclusions and that his findings have not been replicated by others, while others say that his studies are contradicted by other evidence.
Dr. Butler said that he is not calling for the diabetic drugs to be removed from the market, rather he feels that studies should be done using MRI scans to see if the use of the drugs is enlarging the pancreases of patients. Dr. Butler though, doesn’t prescribe the diabetic drugs to his own patient.
If you or a loved one has used Januvia or Byetta or any of the diabetes drugs and suffered from acute pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer, please call one of our attorneys at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free no obligation consultation.