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November 26, 2018

Pancreatic cancer claims revived against diabetes drug manufacturers

In a unanimous decision, a California appellate panel ordered on Nov. 6 that claims alleging pancreatic cancer caused by diabetes drug manufacturers Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co., AstraZeneca’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and Novo Nordisk Inc., should continue to move forward in state court. The Court’s ruling was in agreement with an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that similarly revived hundreds of federal claims late last year.

Pancreatic cancer claims

At the root of the claims going through state and federal courts are a class of Type 2 diabetes medications known as incretin mimetics, which includes Januvia®, Victoza®, Janumet®, and Byetta®. Concerns have been raised that patients who were prescribed and are taking incretin mimetics may be three times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, a particularly aggressive and deadly form of cancer that is most often diagnosed in the later stages.

Plaintiffs in the MDL and state litigations have alleged that incretin mimetic manufacturers failed to meet an obligation to warn of the potential risks. In 2015, however, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia agreed to grant summary judgment dismissing the MDL after finding that there was clear evidence that the FDA would not have approved a change to the drug’s label. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit determined in December 2017 that crucial scientific information that spoke to a potential link between the drugs and cancer was newly developed and/or withheld from the FDA. The Court determined that had the FDA reviewed this information, it may have required  that the warning labels be strengthened.

In agreement with the Ninth Circuit’s findings and revival of the MDL, the California appellate panel found that state claims should also be revived.

Our role in diabetes drug lawsuits

Motley Rice attorney Kimberly Barone Baden, Ann E. Rice Ervin and Hank Young represent a number of diabetes patients who were subsequently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. If you or a loved one were prescribed and took Januvia, Victoza, Janumet, or Byetta to treat diabetes and later developed pancreatic cancer, you may contact our attorneys by email or call 1.800.768.4026 to discuss a potential claim.