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    januvia and byetta

    Januvia and Byetta are both treatments for Type 2 diabetes. Januvia is produced by Merck, and Byetta is produced by Amylin Pharmaceuticals. The two drugs are often prescribed together in order to provide maximum effectiveness in treating patients struggling to control their blood sugar.

    Both drugs are extremely popular, with more than two million prescriptions written for Januvia alone in 2011. Analysts predict that sales of Januvia may reach an estimated $6 billion annually as the population ages and the instances of diabetes increase.

    Unfortunately, millions of patients prescribed Januvia and Byetta may find themselves facing unexpected health problems. Although these drugs may keep blood sugar down and stabilize insulin levels, the medications have also been linked to very serious and potentially fatal side effects related to pancreatic diseases, as well as thyroid and kidney problems.

    If you took Januvia, Byetta or both drugs and have been diagnosed with acute pancreatic, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer or kidney failure, you may have certain legal rights. Lawsuits have already been filed against Merck, Amylin Pharmaceuticals and makers of similar medications by patients who suffered pancreatic complications. Claims have also been filed by relatives whose family members died as a result of taking the diabetes medications.

    If you have suffered complications related to pancreatic diseases, thyroid cancer or kidney failure after using Januvia or Byetta, you could be entitled to compensation for the physical injuries and emotional suffering you have endured. Contact our South Carolina dangerous drug lawyers at Joye Law Firm to find out what legal options you may have. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or use our online contact form. There is no fee for the consultation and claim review.

    Complications from Januvia And Byetta

    Januvia is an oral medication and is the top-selling brand in its class of diabetes drugs, with an estimated 75 percent of the global market share. Januvia is in a class of medications called DPP-4 inhibitors that aim to lower blood sugar by increasing the body’s insulin levels and decreasing the production of sugar in the liver. By blocking DPP-4, which breaks down incretin in the body, incretin can stay in the blood for longer and continue to stimulate the pancreas to make insulin and remove excess sugar.

    Byetta is a twice-daily injectable drug that is often prescribed in conjunction with the oral medication, Januvia. Byetta, which was approved by the FDA in 2007, aims to control blood sugar by mimicking the body’s natural production of GLP-1. GLP-1 is a hormone that increases the production of insulin, helping to control blood sugar.

    Byetta is considered to be part of a class of medications called glucagonlike peptide-1 receptor agonists. It accounted for $517.7 million in sales in 2011. Analysts estimate that sales of the medication, which can also help with weight loss, could exceed $1 billion in coming years.

    Unfortunately, the medications significantly increase the risk of:

    • Pancreatitis
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Thyroid cancer
    • Kidney damage and failure.

    The manufacturers of Byetta, Januvia and similar medications allegedly did not provide adequate warning of these risks to patients when the drugs came on the market. The lack of a warning may mean that patients did not have the opportunity to give informed consent to the risks of taking the medications, and many found themselves facing unexpected serious and life-threatening complications. Some of these patients are now attempting to hold the drug manufacturers liable through defective drug lawsuits.

    Pancreatitis Dangers

    Both Byetta and Januvia have been linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis. For example:

    • The Institute of Safe Medication Practices compiled adverse-event reports on Byetta from the FDA and found more than 400 reports of chronic and acute pancreatitis in 2011 alone. Patients taking Byetta and a similar medication, Bydureon, may be as much as 49 times more likely to report pancreatitis than patients taking other similar medications.
    • Between 2006 and 2009, almost 100 cases of acute pancreatitis linked to Januvia were reported to the FDA. Many of these cases included necrotizing pancreatitis, which occurs when the digestive hormones the pancreas produces begin to digest tissue in the pancreas. This condition can be fatal.
    • In a 2011 study conducted by UCLA researchers and published in Gastroenterology, researchers estimated that patients taking Byetta and/or Januvia were around six times as likely to develop pancreatitis. These findings were consistent with studies conducted on animals showing an increased risk. Pancreatitis normally developed within two months of the patient beginning to take Januvia or similar medications.
    • In 2009, the FDA mandated that Amylin Pharmaceuticals should conduct additional post-market studies on the link between Byetta and pancreatitis. The FDA also issued a safety alert in 2009 linking the active ingredient in Januvia to acute pancreatitis.

    Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can be fatal in 10 to 30 percent of cases. It occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and the body’s digestive enzymes begin to attack it. In some instances, the condition can lead to infection, tissue damage, the formation of cysts and internal bleeding. Other organs, including the lungs, kidneys and heart, can also be damaged as a result of pancreatitis. The disease can develop quickly and worsen over a short period of time.

    Pancreatic Cancer

    A 2011 UCLA study published in Gastroenterology also indicated that patients taking Byetta and/or Januvia had triple the chance of developing pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is often asymptomatic until the cancer is quite advanced. Since an estimated 80 percent of pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed only after the cancer has metastasized (spread to other organs), this type of cancer has an almost 95 percent five-year fatality rate.

    Thyroid Cancer

    Thyroid cancer was also identified as a serious risk in the 2011 UCLA study. The study revealed that patients had around a five-fold increase in the risk of developing cancer as compared with those on a different diabetes medication.

    Another published study, this one in Experimental Diabetes Research, indicated that Byetta increased cancer cells in animals. The study was conducted by the National Taiwan University College of Medicine.

    Finally, the FDA received reports of thyroid cancer as an adverse side effect of both Januvia and Byetta. The thyroid makes hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, and cancers can also be diagnosed late in the thyroid.

    Kidney Problems

    There have been post-marketing reports of worsening renal (kidney) function related to both Januvia and Byetta. In some cases, the reports indicated that kidney failure occurred, leading to the patient requiring dialysis.

    Because of the potential risk of kidney problems, doctors are advised to assess a patient’s renal function prior to starting Januvia or Byetta treatment. The FDA also mandated that Byetta add the risk of kidney failure and damage to its warning label in 2009.

    If you or someone you care about took Januvia or Byetta and suffered pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, renal failure or other serious health problems, our law firm would like to speak with you. We may be able to help

    At Joye Law Firm, we are dedicated to our clients and our community. When you’ve been seriously injured by a dangerous prescription drug, you can trust our South Carolina drug injury attorneys to treat you with respect and work to get the compensation you deserve. Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or fill out a free online consultation form and talk to our South Carolina injury lawyers today.


    • Diabetes Health – Januvia Taken Alone May Increase Pancreatic Risks, But Using It With Metformin Removes the Threat
    • Clinical Diabetes – Dipeptidyl Peptidase-IV Inhibitors: Pharmacological Profile and Clinical Use
    • FDA –Sitagliptin (marketed as Januvia and Janumet) – acute pancreatitis
    • Institute for Safe Medication Practices – Monitoring FDA MedWatch Reports
    • USA Today – Popular diabetes drugs may raise pancreatic cancer risk, study suggests
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