Pancreatic Cancer and Incretin Mimetic Drugs

Once believed to be the biggest breakthrough since insulin for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, a widely used class of pharmaceutical drugs known as incretin mimetics has recently been tied to potentially life-threatening side effects like pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and you believe an incretin mimetic drug to be the culprit, contact an experienced incretin mimetic injury lawyer to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a product liability lawsuit against the company responsible for manufacturing the medication, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries and medical expenses.

Incretin Mimetic Lawsuit Information

Incretin mimetic drugs already carry a warning label highlighting the potential for patients taking the drugs to develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas considered an established risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is an extremely aggressive disease and patients with this type of cancer typically do not develop symptoms until the disease is in its later stages, which means the prognosis for most diagnosed cases of pancreatic cancer is not good. According to the American Cancer Society, the one-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is about 20% and the five-year survival rate is about 8%. And while pancreatic cancer is the ninth or tenth most commonly diagnosed cancer, depending on gender, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women.

Popular Types of Incretin Mimetic Drugs

• Byetta (exenatide)
• Bydureon (exenatide)
• Januvia (sitagliptin)
• Janumet (sitagliptin)
• Kombiglyze XR (saxagliptin)
• Onglyza (saxagliptin)
• Saxenda (liraglutide)
• Victoza (liraglutide)

“A 2018 study published in Diabetes Care looked at 33,292 patients treated with incretin drugs, and more than half a million patients treated with other types of medications, and found double the risk of pancreatic cancer in patients taking incretin mimetics.”

What are Incretin Mimetic Drugs?

Incretin mimetic drugs like Victoza and Byetta are a popular course of treatment for type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, occurring when blood glucose levels in the body are higher than normal. Incretin mimetics are designed to mimic the incretin hormones that the body normally produces to stimulate the secretion of insulin in response to a meal, and when they are used in combination with diet and exercise, incretin mimetic drugs can lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

There are two main types of incretin mimetics: glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists and dipeptidylpeptisade-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors. GLP-1 agonists, like Victoza, work by increasing insulin release while suppressing glucagon, a hormone released by the pancreas. Because these medications can also suppress appetite, they are sometimes prescribed as weight loss medications. In fact, one of the newest GLP-1 agonists, Saxenda, is actually marketed as a prescription weight loss injection. DPP-4 inhibitors, on the other hand, work by blocking DPP-4, the enzyme that destroys the incretin hormone.

Reasons to Bring About Litigation

• Incretin mimetics are defective medications that pose an unreasonable risk of side effects for users
• The makers of incretin mimetics failed to properly test the medications
• The makers of incretin mimetics knew or should have known about the potential for their drugs to cause pancreatic cancer
• Consumers and the medical community were not properly warned about the potential risk of pancreatic cancer from incretin mimetic drugs

Pancreatic Cancer from Incretin Mimetic Drugs

Concerns about the potential health risks of incretin mimetic drugs first began to emerge after the FDA announced in March 2013 that the agency would be launching an investigation into the potential for the medications to cause or contribute to the development of pancreatitis and pre-cancerous findings of the pancreas in patients with type 2 diabetes. In the drug safety communication issued at that time, the FDA warned about “an increased risk of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, and pre-cancerous cellular changes called pancreatic duct metaplasia in patients with type 2 diabetes treated with a class of drugs called incretin mimetics.”

The FDA’s announcement came after a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that type 2 diabetes patients treated with the incretin mimetics sitagliptin or exenatide faced a significantly increased risk of hospitalization for acute pancreatitis. That same year, the medical journal Diabetes published a study linking incretin therapies to considerable inflammation of the pancreas, indicating that patients treated with incretin mimetics faced an increased risk of developing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. More recently, a 2018 study published in Diabetes Care looked at 33,292 patients treated with incretin drugs, and more than half a million patients treated with other types of medications, and found double the risk of pancreatic cancer in patients taking incretin mimetics. Despite this potential risk, the FDA has yet to add any pancreatic cancer warnings to the labels of incretin mimetic drugs.

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