Diabetes Drug Lawsuits Involving Byetta, Januvia, and Victoza Move Forward, as Federal Court Adopts New Bellwether Trial Schedule for Pancreatic Cancer Claims

Published on March 28, 2018 by Sandy Liebhard

Diabetes drug lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of Byetta, Januvia and Victoza are moving forward once again, as a federal court housing hundreds of pancreatic cancer claims recently adopted a new schedule that could allow bellwether trials to begin in January 2020.

According to a Case Management Order issued in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, on March 21st, the parties have been directed to begin work on a bellwether trial protocol to be finalized no later than December 14, 2018.

The filing deadline for Daubert and summary judgment motions is set for December 11, 2018. Oppositions are due January 11, 2019, while replies must be submitted by February 8, 2019. The Court will hear arguments on any pending motions on February 20, 2019.

“With resolution of the summary judgments, unless ordered earlier, the parties will select the Bellwether cases pursuant to the previously described protocol, and will engage in necessary case specific discovery,” the Order concludes. “Trials will be set commencing January of 2020.”

As bellwether trials, verdicts in those cases could provide insight into how other juries will rule in similar pancreatic cancer lawsuits involving Byetta, Januvia and Victoza.

Incretin Mimetics Litigation

Byetta, Januvia and Victoza belong to a class of Type 2 diabetes drugs called incretin mimetics. These medications mimic the action of incretin hormones, which are produced by the gut to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal.

Diabetes drug lawsuits involving these medications began to mount after a number of reports suggested that patients treated with incretin mimetics were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Plaintiffs accused the drugs’ manufacturers of failing to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings regarding this risk.

All federally-filed incretin mimetics lawsuits have been centralized in the Southern District of California for the purpose of coordinated pretrial proceedings. However, the litigation came to a sudden halt in November 2015, when the judge overseeing the proceeding granted a defense motion for summary judgment and effectively dismissed the more-than 700 cases pending in the proceeding. In doing so, he found that the claims were preempted because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had never required the drugs’ manufacturers to include pancreatic cancer warnings on their product labels.

The plaintiffs ultimately appealed that decision to the U S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In December 2017, a  3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit issued a unanimous ruling for the plaintiffs and reinstated their claims.

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