Victoza is an incretin mimetic, a type of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. Victoza lawsuits have been consolidated under a multidistrict litigation covering four of these medications and the companies that make them. Although the drugs help people with type 2 diabetes lower blood sugar levels, they have also been found to contribute to serious health conditions, putting patients at risk for cancer and pancreatitis.
Made by Novo Nordisk, Victoza is one of the four incretin mimetics being targeted in lawsuits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the medication in 2010, but since then a number of reports along with evidence from studies have proven that there are significant risks associated with taking Victoza. If you have been harmed by this medication it may not be too late to file a lawsuit of your own to seek compensation.
What is Victoza?
Victoza is the generic drug liraglutide and was developed by Novo Nordisk to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes who are also using diet and exercise to control the chronic condition. Normally the hormone insulin, which is excreted by the pancreas, controls blood sugar, but in someone with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produces enough or the body has become less sensitive to insulin. This happens when a person has an unhealthy diet, with too much sugar, and often to people who are overweight or obese. Lifestyle changes can help reverse the disease, but medications are often prescribed to speed up the process.
Liraglutide controls blood sugar, but is designed to be used along with a better diet, exercise, and weight loss. It belongs to the class of drugs called incretin mimetics. These are drugs that mimic glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1, a protein that does a lot of things in the body, including triggering the production of insulin. Liraglutide mimics GLP-1 and stimulates cells in the pancreas, which leads to more insulin and lower blood sugar. It is an injectable medication, usually taken once a day.
Victoza and the Pancreas
Incretin mimetics like Victoza have come under fire in the last few years after evidence surfaced that they could cause serious pancreatic conditions. The FDA became aware of the risks and has issued several warnings to notify patients and doctors. Victoza is now known to increase the risk of developing pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas, and pancreatic cancer. It comes on quickly and only gets worse. Without quick treatment, acute pancreatitis like this can be fatal.
The evidence has come from individual reports of patients developing these health problems, but also from study results. The FDA analyzed the results of clinical trials conducted on Victoza by Novo Nordisk and found that patients taking it were more likely to develop pancreatitis than those taking other types of type 2 diabetes drugs. Another study found similar results and even reported on one patient who died of pancreatitis that developed while taking an incretin mimetic.
Even more recently studies have shown that there is also a connection between incretin mimetics and pancreatic cancer, a deadly and aggressive type of cancer. One study found pre-cancerous cells in the pancreases of several patients who had been taking one or more of these medications to treat type 2 diabetes. Investigations into pancreatic cancer are ongoing, and while not yet considered by the FDA to be conclusive, are worrying.
The Risk of Thyroid Cancer
The evidence regarding the risk of developing thyroid cancer while taking Victoza is strong enough to warrant a special packaging warning. The FDA requires that the label on Victoza include a black box warning. This is the agency’s strongest warning, used for risks of drugs that, although they may be rare, are serious and life-threatening. Research connecting Victoza to thyroid cancer was clearly seen in trials with lab rats.
Incretin Mimetic Lawsuits
People who were harmed by taking Victoza and other incretin mimetics are filing lawsuits against their makers. In addition to Victoza and Novo Nordisk, the suits include the drugs Januvia, Janumet, and Tradjenta, made by Merck and Eli Lilly. The plaintiffs accuse the drug makers of knowing about risks like pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid cancer, and marketing their medications anyway. They also accuse the companies of failing to warn the public, patients, and even doctors of the serious risks of using the drugs to treat type 2 diabetes.
To streamline the process of getting through all of the cases, 97 federal lawsuits were consolidated into one multidistrict litigation in southern California. More cases were later added, bringing the total up to more than 700. The multidistrict litigation is known as Incretin Mimetics Products Liability Litigation. It is not typical to consolidate cases with more than one drug manufacturer involved, but because these medications are so similar, it was considered reasonable to do so in this instance. Some of the plaintiffs were even taking two of the four contested drugs at one time to control blood sugar.
Novo Nordisk and the other companies involved in this case argued that the FDA would not have let them list pancreatic cancer as a potential risk on their drug labels. This was because the agency did not believe the evidence was strong enough to be conclusive about the risk. Unfortunately for those patients who suffered because of pancreatic cancer, this was bad news. Those cases related to cancer claims were dismissed by the judge.
Filing a Victoza Lawsuit
More evidence is likely to be found in the coming years to prove that there is a connection between pancreatic cancer and incretin mimetics. In the meantime, the evidence is clear that it can contribute to pancreatitis and thyroid cancer. If you have had any of these health concerns while taking Victoza, you may be able to make a case against Novo Nordisk in an attempt to recover damages.
If you have struggled with these health problems, you have probably faced mounting medical bills to treat them. You may have lost some of your income if you were unable to go to work. Compensation from a lawsuit can cover these bills and losses. You may even be able to seek compensation for your pain and suffering and for damaged relationships caused by your illness.
Plaintiffs in cases against Novo Nordisk have claimed that Victoza is defective, that the company was negligent in their illnesses, that the company failed to test its product thoroughly or to warn patients that it came with serious risks. If you feel that these claims are valid in your case, let a lawyer help you decide how to proceed and how you can get back some of what you have lost during your health ordeal.