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Mass Tort Law



Onglyza Lawsuit Information

Have you or a loved one ever used Onglyza to treat type 2 diabetes? Were you later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer? If so, you may be entitled to damages. Recent studies have indicated Onglyza may increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, meaning you may have a valid legal claim against the manufacturers of the drug.

First approved in 2009 to control blood sugar levels in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Onglyza was a joint venture for drug makers AstraZeneca and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. By 2011, the popular drug had reached $700 million in sales, largely due to the fact the oral drug, unlike other diabetes medications, does not include weight gain as a side effect. However, it has been linked to other potentially life-threatening conditions such as pancreatic cancer.

What is Onglyza?

Onglyza, or saxaglipton, is an oral medication used to treat type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels. It is classified as an incretin mimetic, which refers to its ability to mimic or imitate the incretin hormones the body usually produces on its own to stimulate the proper amount of insulin throughout the body after meals, thus controlling blood sugar in the process.

Incretins are a collection of metabolic hormones, known as GLP-1, that reproduce through the pancreas to diminish blood glucose levels by boosting the amount of insulin released after food is introduced to the body, thereby preventing the elevation of blood glucose levels, which the bodies of those who suffer from type 2 diabetes are unable to do on their own.

Dangers Associated With Onglyza

Because Onglyza's primary function is to act on the pancreas to decrease blood glucose levels, it has been linked to pancreatitis, better known as inflammation of the pancreas. This particular condition typically has few symptoms, leaving patients who suffer from it often unaware they even have it. However, left untreated, pancreatitis has the potential to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.

In a 2013 study published by the medical journal Diabetes, researchers studied the pancreases of diabetic patients who had taken incretin mimetic drugs to control their conditions but later died in the absence of any discernible cause. What they found was that the majority of these organs contained an excess of pre-cancerous growths as well as a disproportionate growth of cells.

This led those responsible for the study to warn against the potential for developing pre-cancerous tumors that could end up requiring invasive surgery, and at worst, pancreatic cancer.

The study concluded, "in humans, incretin therapy resulted in a marked expansion of the exocrine and endocrine pancreatic compartments, the former being accompanied by increased proliferation and dysplasia, the latter by α cell hyperplasia with the potential for evolution into neuroendocrine tumors."

When uncontrolled cell growth occurs in the pancreas, which is a large gland behind the stomach responsible for secreting insulin and glucagon into the blood, the result is pancreatic cancer.

As such, the FDA has issued a "safety communication" regarding Onglyza and other incretin mimetics. They plan to investigate studies related to these types of medications and their specific links to cancer. They previously warned manufacturers of this class of drugs to carefully review these possible connections in 2009, though no information regarding any probable correlation was ever made public.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the dreaded disease, largely due to its lack of symptoms in its early stages. Once symptoms do begin to emerge, the cancer has often progressed to other parts of the body, therefore becoming much harder to cure. Oftentimes, surgery alone is no longer effective in ridding the body of the illness, requiring many patients to undergo additional, life-altering methods of treatment.

It's extremely important to know the signs and symptoms of both pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. If you notice any of the following, it is important to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Fever
  • Pain from abdomen that spreads to back
  • Pain in the abdomen made worse after eating
  • Vomiting
  • Abdomen that is tender to the touch
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Oily, malodorous stools

Aside from pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis can cause serious and severe complications if left untreated. Treatment may include fasting, intravenous fluids, pain medications and in more advanced cases, surgery.

Signs/symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Sudden onset of diabetes
  • Skin or eyes that appear yellow in color (referred to as jaundice)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itchy skin, particularly of the palms and feet
  • Enlarged gall bladder
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Changes in taste
  • Black, tar-like stool
  • Pale, malodorous stools that float
  • Unexplained weight loss that happens suddenly
  • Bloating
  • Worsening of type 2 diabetes symptoms
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dark-colored urine

As you can see, many of these symptoms are similar to those of pancreatitis, though concrete symptoms are atypical before the disease has already spread to other parts of the body.

Don't Wait To Take Action

The time to file is now, before it's too late. The statute of limitations, better known as the amount of time you have between developing pancreatic cancer and filing a lawsuit, varies by state but it's best to take action as soon as possible. If you or a loved one took Onglyza for type 2 diabetes and have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, or have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, don't wait. We're here for you and will do everything we can to help you with your claim. We're on your side.

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