TYPE II DIABETICS MUST KNOW BYETTA USE IS LINKED TO CANCER

Perhaps being close to a family member with type 2 diabetes has caused the question to arise, “What is Byetta?”

If a loved one, parent, child, significant other, or any close relative has diabetes and is prescribed a new medication, it is always prudent to be educated about it. It is very important to know when it should be taken, what the possible side effects are, and why it was prescribed. Essentially, Byetta is a medication given to type 2 diabetes patients to help regulate their blood sugar after meals. It is typically supposed to be injected in the skin 60 minutes prior to the first and last meal of the day.

A healthy, curious mind might still be wondering, what is Byetta actually doing once in the body. What is the drug’s chemical reaction? Is it basically just insulin? This is a valid inquiry, and there is an important distinction to make. The drug has several different effects which help keep blood sugar in check. The drug does not produce insulin directly. Instead, it taps into the body’s natural insulin production system by mimicking the hormone, Incretin. The medication essentially acts as a natural hormone by alerting the pancreas to make the right amount of insulin at the appropriate time, which balances out blood sugar levels. In addition, the drug stops the liver from over producing glucose when it is not needed.

The medication basically slows down the speed at which both glucose and food leave the stomach after a meal. This prevents high blood glucose levels. Although there are certainly no guarantees, this last effect might result in weight loss for some people. This is not marketed as a weight-loss medication, even though the drug typically lowers the appetite of those taking it. Thereby lowering the amount of food one eats. Byetta should never be taken unless prescribed by a clinical doctor. Nor should its users never take more of the drug per day than allotted. However, what is Byetta, or any prescribed drug for that matter, if it is not taken properly.

Patients with diabetes have limited options for treatment, including Byetta, but an injury lawyer may be needed if this medication causes serious health complications. The primary ingredient in this drug is exenatide, a synthetic version of exendin-4, which is a hormone secreted in the saliva of the Gila monster. This hormone was isolated for study in 1992 and was found to be chemically similar to GLP-1. This human peptide, GLP-1, is effective at increasing insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. It is also effective at decreasing glucagon secretion, a substance in the body that increases blood sugar. It also remains in the body longer than GLP-1, so it can treat diabetes with less frequent dosing.

However, the FDA, responding to postmarketing reports, added a label to the drug’s packaging in 2007. This label detailed inherent risks of the medication, including reports of acute pancreatitis. On August 19, 2008, a patient taking Byetta and his lawyer filed a claim against Eli Lilly, the drug’s manufacturer, asserting that the label change was not enough. Since 2008, additional research into the medication suggests that acute pancreatitis is just one of the major side effects exenatide can cause.

Several deaths due to acute pancreatitis were reported in 2007 and 2008 as a result of exenatide usage. Initially, it was believed that the medication was only likely to cause acute pancreatitis. However, the FDA released a safety report in 2008 that stated that patients were also reporting hemorrhagic and necrotizing pancreatitis, which are more severe versions of the disease. In 2009, the FDA released another safety report stating that exenatide could also cause altered kidney function in patients. In addition, research made public in 2011 and 2012 showed linkage between pancreatic and thyroid cancer and Byetta. Nearly every lawyer in the drug injury field is looking for patients who have developed thyroid or pancreatic cancer after taking exenatide. These legal professionals hope to protect other patients by finding cases and pushing for more information concerning the medication.

In 2011, a study in Gastroenterology, a medical journal, showed that patients taking exenatide were three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer compared to other patients. This study also demonstrated a linkage between exenatide and thyroid cancer, reporting 30 incidents of patients developing the cancer after taking Byetta. A drug injury lawyer will point to this as a sign that Eli Lilly did not properly research their product before marketing it to consumers. It is also a strong indication that the product labeling was not comprehensive enough to alert patients to dangers associated with the drug.

In 2012, research demonstrated an even more disturbing linkage. A 12-month report produced by the Institute for Safety Medicine Practices, or ISMP, showed patients reporting severe complications to the FDA in high numbers. Specifically, during this 12 month period, 263 cases of pancreatitis, 71 incidents of pancreatic cancer, and 14 incidents of thyroid cancer were recorded by the FDA’s database.

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As of October 2013, more than 60 suits have been filed by patients who have taken Byetta. In general, the lawyer overseeing each case has asserted that the medication has dangerous potential to cause severe, possibly fatal pancreatitis or cancer. Anyone who has taken exenatide and suffered from one of these conditions should consider speaking to an attorney to discuss their legal options.