Hundreds of additional plaintiffs are now pursuing diabetes drug lawsuits, following the reinstatement of pancreatic cancer claims involving Byetta, Victoza, and other incretin mimetics, by an appeals court late last year.
Byetta and other incretin mimetics lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes by mimicking the action of incretin hormones, which are produced by the gut to stimulate the release of insulin in response to a meal.
In 2013, studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine and Diabetes linked incretin mimetics to increased risks for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. That same year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a Drug Safety Communication warning of a possible association between incretin mimetic diabetes drugs and pancreatitis, as well as pre-cancerous changes to the pancreatic tissue.
An additional study published in 2016 contradicted findings regarding pancreatic cancer, but still cautioned doctors to continue monitoring incretin mimetic patients for signs of the disease.
Shortly after the publication of the studies in 2013, plaintiffs began filing diabetes drug lawsuits that accused pharmaceutical companies of failing to warn doctors and patients that taking Byetta and similar drugs could contribute to pancreatic cancer.
All such federal claims were eventually centralized in a multidistrict litigation before a single judge in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, for coordinated pretrial proceedings. However, in November 2015, the judge overseeing the litigation dismissed all of the cases, after finding that the lawsuits were preempted because the FDA never ordered incretin mimetic 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 for the appeals court issued a unanimous ruling for the plaintiffs and reinstated their claims.
When the diabetes drug lawsuits were dismissed in 2015, around 700 cases were pending in the Southern District of California.
According to a recent update, more than 200 new plaintiffs have joined the litigation since the appeals court’s decision last December, bringing the total number of diabetes drug lawsuit filings to 944 as of July 16, 2018.