Byetta® and Januvia® are medications given to type 2 diabetes patients to help regulate their blood sugar after meals. Byetta is supposed to be injected in the skin 60 minutes prior to the first and last meal of the day, while Januvia is a once-daily pill.

Byetta, along with other incretin mimetics Januvia and Victoza, has been linked to pancreatic and thyroid cancer in users. Byetta’s history over the last decade has been fraught with FDA labeling updates, medical studies regarding the safety of this medication, and, most notably, several lawsuits against the manufacturer, Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

If you or a loved one takes Byetta or Januvia and has been diagnosed with cancer, you might want to explore your legal options. We encourage you to contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.

Our team has years of experience holding negligent manufacturers responsible for the harm their products have caused consumers. Contact us today by filling out our online form or calling us at 1-800-444-5000.

Type 2 Diabetics Depend on These Medications

Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has diabetes. The most common type of diabetes is Type 2. Without proper management and medication, many diabetics face a severe risk of serious illness and death. In other words, diabetics’ lives depend on the effectiveness and reliability of the medications they take.

In the case of Byetta and Januvia, the medication itself carries the potential risk for the development of cancer. This is obviously a major concern for users of these medications, and it points to the fact that there has been a lack of accountability by the manufacturer. Before we look at what is known about the link between Byetta and Januvia and cancer, let’s look at how these medications work.

How Incretin Mimetics Work

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 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 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.

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 remains in the body longer than GLP-1, so it can treat diabetes with less-frequent dosing.

Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are accepting calls from Byetta and Januvia users concerned about the medication’s link with certain types of cancer. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

A Pattern Emerges in Byetta’s Effects on Users


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 likely to cause only acute pancreatitis. However, the FDA released a safety report in 2008 stating 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.


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 (ISMP), showed patients were 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.

2013 to Present

As of October 2013, more than 60 lawsuits had been filed by patients who had 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.

The above timeline appears to be just the beginning of the story about Byetta’s impact on users.

Byetta users continue to voice concerns and file lawsuits against the manufacturer. Sadly, this story is not uncommon in our country. Too often we see a pattern of negligence by some drug and medical manufacturers. When our regulators are slow to act and drugmakers don’t take concerns seriously, it is up to consumers to find other ways to address neglected safety issues..


The legal team at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help you and your loved ones get the compensation you deserve. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and have been taking Byetta or Januvia, you are likely concerned about the challenging road ahead. We believe that you shouldn’t have to pay the costs for the damages you’ve suffered and the future treatment you’ll need. That burden should be carried by the manufacturer of the drug that caused your condition.

Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by filling out our online form or calling us toll-free at 1-800-444-5000.

Disclaimer: Do not stop taking a prescription medication without first consulting with your doctor. Discontinuing a prescribed medication without your doctor’s advice can result in injury or death. Cases may be referred to another attorney or law firm.