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Byetta Cancer Lawsuit Filed in Florida

Jun 3, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A Byetta lawsuit filed in Florida last year claims the Type II Diabetes drug caused pancreatic and liver cancer.  The Byetta cancer lawsuit alleges Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly negligently marketed Byetta, and breached warranty by failing to adequately test it or warn consumers of its dangers. 

Fred J. Salem was prescribed Byetta in July 2007.  A lawsuit filed by his widow in January 2010 alleges that shortly after starting Byetta, he began suffering from weight loss, skin discoloration, nausea and fever.   Eventually, Salem was diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancer, which killed him in January 2008.

Among other things, the Byetta cancer lawsuit claims the drug's makers "overstated the drug's benefits while downplaying the nature and extent of the risks." Charges in the lawsuit include negligence, failure to warn, and loss of consortium.

Concerns have been growing for sometime about Byetta's possible cancer risks.  It is already known Byetta users face the possibility of developing pancreatitis.   An inflammation of the pancreas, pancreatitis can lead to pancreatic cancer if it becomes chronic.

In December 2009, it was learned that the drug’s makers had been directed by the  U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a number of Byetta post-marketing studies.  These included one that would explore a possible association with pancreatic cancer and thyroid neoplasm (this often refers to thyroid cancer). 

One other diabetes medication in the same class as Byetta already bears a Black Box warning about thyroid cancer.   The FDA has expressed concern that Byetta and similar drugs may also require a strict Thyroid cancer warning.

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