Showard Law Firm offers effective legal representation for those who developed pancreatic cancer after taking diabetes drugs like Januvia, Byetta and Victoza. Every year in America, nearly 56,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas, which has a 5-year survival rate of just 7 percent.
In 2013, the FDA published a safety communication regarding the use of incretin mimetics – a class of Type 2 diabetes drugs – and their connection to pancreatic diseases. Health officials cited studies that linked diabetes medications in this class of drugs to an increased incidence of pancreatic cancer, which instigated an onslaught of product liability lawsuits against manufacturers like Merck and Novo Nordisk.
To learn more about pursuing a pancreatic cancer lawsuit for your injuries and losses, contact Showard Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case review.
Pancreatic cancer causes
Pancreatic cancer carries a poor prognosis, and despite major advances in medical research, doctors are unable to pinpoint the definitive causes of this deadly disease. However, there are certain risk factors that can cause a person to be more prone to DNA mutations, causing cells to grow uncontrollably as the cancer spreads.
Situated between the stomach and the spine, the pancreas has two main functions: to secrete enzymes that help break down food, and to produce insulin and glucagon to stabilize blood sugar levels and allow the body to utilize energy from food.
Known risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Type II diabetes
- Tobacco use
- Family history of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer
- Race – African Americans are at higher risk
- Gender – Males have a higher incidence
- Age – People aged 60-80 account for 80 percent of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses
- Inherited genetic mutations such as FAMM syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Lynch syndrome, Multiple endocrine neoplasia and Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
Pancreatic cancer has historically been more prevalent in individuals with diabetes. Studies indicate that people who are prescribed incretin mimetic diabetes drugs may be at greater risk for developing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Concerns over pancreatic cancer risk
Incretin mimetics are frequently prescribed to treat Type II diabetes. This newer class of diabetes medications work by mimicking the function of natural incretins that reduce post-meal blood glucose levels. However, patient reports and scientific studies have raised safety concerns about Incretin Mimetic exposure and an increased risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. One 2015 study that reviewed medical records from a million patients with type II diabetes found that “Januvia was significantly associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.” In a separate study, published in the journal Diabetes in 2013, researchers concluded that “incretin therapy in humans resulted in a marked expansion of the exocrine and endocrine pancreatic compartments … with the potential for evolution into neuroendocrine tumors.”
What drugs may cause pancreatic cancer?
Incretin-based diabetes drugs that are FDA-approved for treating diabetes mellitus include:
- Januvia (sitagliptin)
- Janumet (sitagliptin)
- Byetta (exenatide)
- Bydureon (exenatide)
- Victoza (liraglutide)
The question many diabetes patients are asking is, “What drugs can cause pancreatic cancer?” While the health officials await additional studies to confirm the causal connection between certain Incretin therapies and cancer of the pancreas, litigation over this dangerous side effect continues to grow. Showard Law Firm can help victims and their loved ones bring negligent manufacturers to justice. Common causes of action in pancreatic cancer claims include deceit by concealment, strict liability, and negligent misrepresentation.
Whether you lost a family member to pancreatic cancer, or are currently battling the disease, protect your rights by partnering with an attorney who is experienced in diabetes drugs litigation.
Pancreatic cancer symptoms
Early detection of pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult because symptoms are ambiguous or nonexistent during the initial stages of the disease. By the time symptoms become bothersome and painful, the cancer will typically have spread into adjacent tissues, giving patients a much poorer prognosis.
Some of the more common signs of pancreatic cancer include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Jaundice (visible yellowing of the eyes and the skin)
- Dark urine
- Worsening of Type II diabetes
- Clay colored stools
- Itchy skin
- Abdominal pain and bloating
As the disease progresses, pancreatic cancer can cause:
- Severe back pain
- Abdominal distension
- Hair thinning and loss
- Blood clots
- Liver enlargement
Pancreatic cancer treatment and prognosis
Because signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer are so vague, most cases go undetected for months. Once a diagnosis is made, the chance of recovery will depend largely on the size of the tumors and whether it has metastasized to other parts of the body like the lymph nodes, liver, lungs and bones. If the cancer is confined and can be surgically removed, the patient has a much better chance of recovery. Once the tumors have spread to distant sites throughout the body, the outlook is much grimmer and more focused mainly on palliative care.
Depending on the stage of the cancer, treatment options may entail a combination of the following:
- Surgery to remove the cancerous tumors
- Ablation or embolization treatments
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drug therapy
- Biologic therapy
- Pain management/ palliative care
In cases of advanced pancreatic cancer, the treatments can have such horrible side effects that the benefits are overshadowed by the diminished quality of life. According to the American Cancer Society, the 1-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is 20 percent.
Diabetes drugs lawsuit consultation
Drug manufacturers have a duty to warn patients about potential side effects and ensure their products are safe. Plaintiffs claim that Big Pharma breached this duty by failing to warn about the link between diabetes drugs and pancreatic cancer risks.
Showard Law Firm has the resources, expertise and legal savvy to take on complex defective drug claims and win fair compensation for clients. Arrange a complimentary case review with one of our attorneys today.
Additional Resources on Pancreatic Cancer:
- Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms https://www.pancan.org/facing-pancreatic-cancer/symptoms/
- Reuters, Diabetes drugs tied to pancreatic cancer risk https://www.reuters.com/article/us-diabetes-drugs-tied-pancreatic-cancer/diabetes-drugs-tied-to-pancreatic-cancer-risk-idUSTRE80U0ZQ20120131
- American Journal of Gastroenterology, Use of Antidiabetic Agents and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Case–Control Analysis https://www.nature.com/articles/ajg2011483
- Diabetes in Control, Incretin Mimetics and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer? http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/incretin-mimetics-and-risk-of-pancreatic-cancer/