Since a federal appeals court reinstated nearly 700 Byetta lawsuits, Januvia lawsuits, Janumet lawsuits, and Victoza lawsuits, a steadily growing number of cases have been filed on behalf of individuals nationwide diagnosed with pancreatic cancer following use of the controversial diabetes drugs.
Byetta, Victoza, Januvia and Janumet are all part of a popular class of diabetes medications, known as increatin mimetics, which have been linked to an increased risk of pancreatitis. In recent years, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed that allege this leads to the development of pancreatic cancer in many cases, yet drug makers failed to warn consumers and the medical community about the potential risk.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in cases filed throughout the federal court system, the litigation was centralized before U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia in the Southern District of California in 2013.
Following coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, Judge Battaglia dismissed the litigation in 2015, finding that the claims were preempted by federal law, since he believed there was sufficient evidence to establish that the FDA would not have approved any request by the drug makers to add pancreatic cancer warnings to the drug labels.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned that ruling in December 2017, reinstating about 700 lawsuits and returning the cases back to Judge Battaglia for coordinated pretrial proceedings, which had been paused for about two years.
According to an update (PDF) released by the court last month, there are now about 940 claims, and it is expected that the litigation will far surpass 1,000 claims as lawyers continue to review and file lawsuits.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, indicating that plaintiffs may have avoided a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer following use of Byetta, Victoza, Januvia or Janumet if the drug makers had not withheld known information about the risks associated with the drugs.
Following any additional discovery permitted under the ruling, it is expected that Judge Battaglia will schedule a series of early trial dates that may begin in 2020. Known as “bellwether” trials, these cases are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.