A 23 year old woman has filed a product liability lawsuit against Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co., claiming that she developed thyroid cancer from side effects of Byetta. Byetta is a newer type of diabetes drug that plaintiffs claim causes pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.
The complaint was filed by Elizabeth Childress on May 9, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Childress, alleges that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011, after using Byetta for several years.
According to Childress, Amylin and Eli Lilly have known about the link between Byetta and thyroid cancer, yet failed to provide adequate warnings or issue a Byetta recall to withdraw the diabetes drug from the market.
Byetta Side Effects and Thyroid Cancer
Byetta (exenatide) is an incretin mimetic diabetes drug known as a GLP-1, and also includes Victoza (liraglutide) and a longer-acting version of Byetta, called Bydureon (extended release exenatide).
When a similar diabetes drug Victoza was introduced in 2010, a “black box” warning was placed on the label, alerting consumers and the medical community about a potential risk of developing thyroid C-cell tumors. Childress claims that Amylin and Eli Lilly never placed warnings on their diabetes drug about the potential Byetta thyroid cancer risk.
The drug makers in 2012, added additional warning to the Bydureon label indicating that the extended release version of Byetta caused thyroid tumors at clinically relevant exposures among rats. But warnings were not added to Byetta even though the drug makers have promoted that the medications are the same, with Bydureon lasting longer.
According to Childress,“While admitting that Bydureon and Byetta are the same, Defendants have been indifferent to the health and safety of Byetta users, having wholly failed to provide any warning whatsoever on the Byetta label related to its link to thyroid cancer.”
Childress seeks monetary damages from Amylin and Eli Lilly for failure to warn, defective design, negligence, breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment. Childress is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.
Byetta Pancreatic Cancer Lawsuits
There are a growing number of Byetta cases filed by patients who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after using the diabetes drug. The FDA has launched an investigation into the risk of pancreatic cancer with all incretin mimetic diabetes drugs. In addition to Byetta, Victoza and Bydureon, other drugs highlighted include Januvia (sitagliptin), Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin), Onglyza (saxagliptin) and Tradjenta (linagliptin).
The safety review was initiated after results of a recent medical study identified pre-cancerous cellular changes in pancreatic tissue taken from individuals treated with one of the drugs. European regulatory officials have also initiated a similar review.
Multi District Consolidation Requested
In April, a motion was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) seeking to consolidate all pancreatic cancer lawsuits filed by Byetta, Victoza, Januvia and Janumet patients, requesting that the cases be centralized before one judge in the federal court system for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a licensed Texas Medical Doctor and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.