A federal appeals court recently signed an order resurrecting around 750 lawsuits filed against the makers of drugs like Januvia, Victoza, Janumet, Byetta/Bydureon, Trulicity and Tradjenta over links to pancreatic cancer.
This both revives a class action-type lawsuit that’s been ongoing since 2013, and also paves the way for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in recent years to file new claims.
The Incretin Drug Pancreatic Cancer Class Action
The incretin Drug Products Liability Litigation Court, also known as multidistrict litigation (MDL) 2452, was created in August 2013 in the Southern California Federal District to centralize a surge of cases filed around the country.
These cases all shared a common trait: patients had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after taking a type 2 diabetes drug in the incretin class. And although the drug makers had warned of the risk of pancreatitis, they never warned of the danger for full-blown pancreatic cancer.
The so-called incretin mimetics class is aptly named because they promote production of a specific metabolic hormone known as incretin. This is normally released after meals to make insulin, fight the spike of blood sugar levels, and limit absorption of foods.
And, while some studies around 2013 were showing these drugs could increase chances for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, others found that they were safe. Regardless, the class action lawsuit grew quickly to several hundred cases.
Trial Court Erroneously Dismisses 749 Lawsuits
Unfortunately, even before more studies could be conducted to check the long-term safety of incretins, a judge unexpectedly shut down the cases.
In November 2015, the trial court judge mistakenly dismissed 749 cases, stating it was the job of the FDA to warn of drug side effects, not the job of manufacturers. Because the FDA hadn’t required warnings for pancreatic cancer, he reasoned, the makers of the drugs had no duty to warn of the dangers either.
Despite the fact that this goes against decades of common practice saying manufacturers are supposed to warn of the inherent dangers in their products, the judge’s decision effectively wiped out the legal rights of 749 families in favor of the large companies producing these drugs.
This concept is known as “federal preemption,” and is highly favored by corporations and large product manufacturers because it limits the rights of people to file lawsuits for their injuries.
Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Lawsuits
Fortunately, the dismissal was appealed to the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. On December 6, 2017, the appellate panel ruled that the incretin court should have looked at more information, including whether drug makers told the FDA about all pancreatic cancer risks, or perhaps withheld some data.
The appeals court also ruled that the trial court judge abused his discretion in prohibiting some of the patients’ expert medical witnesses to testify.
The cases will now be sent back to the MDL court for continued handling, and a status conference is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks to determine the next course of action.
And, ironically, a new study has emerged from Europe showing that patients taking incretin drugs could in fact have more than three times the risk for pancreatic cancer in the early months of treatment.
2018 Incretin Pancreatic Cancer Lawsuits
Based on the decision of the federal appeals court, patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as well as the loved ones of those who’ve died of the disease after taking an incretin diabetes drug, can once again file claims for their loss.
Those who’ve been diagnosed after taking the following drugs may qualify:
Based on the latest report by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, nearly 980 lawsuits have now been filed in the incretin MDL for pancreatic cancer. However, the FDA has received around 5,000 reports of pancreatic cancer from patients taking these drugs, so experts estimate thousands more could join the litigation.
Lawyers are helping anyone diagnosed with cancer after taking an incretin drug investigate their case and file a claim. And, there’s no cost unless an award is received. However, there is only a limited amount of time before your rights expire.
Contact DrugNews today for more diabetes drug research, warnings or legal news. Or, you can talk directly with a lawyer about your situation. We’re available 24 hours a day to help.
Schrama, M. Incretin mimetics cases see signs of new life on eppeal. National Law Review. (February 2, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.natlawreview.com/article/incretin-mimetics-cases-see-signs-new-life-appeal
Kirk, A. Hundreds of Januvia, Victoza, Byetta Lawsuits Reinstated by Appeals Court Ruling. AboutLawsuits. (December 14, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.aboutlawsuits.com/incretin-pancreatic-cancer-lawsuits-reinstated-137435/
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