Diabetes Drug Makers Face Penalties for Weight-Loss Ads

Diabetes Drug Makers Face Penalties for Weight-Loss Ads | Pintas & Mullins Law Firm

Diabetes drug companies are facing potential federal penalties for advertising these drugs as weight-loss aids. Five drugs specifically are named in the complaint: Victoza, Invokana, Jardiance, Farxiga, and Bydureon. Dangerous drug lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn patients of the dangers of diabetes drugs.

A consumer watchdog group, Public Citizen, filed the complaint to the FDA, urging the agency to impose penalties on the drug makers. The group says that the ads are everywhere, in magazines, websites and other media, describing that these medications can help patients lose weight.

Public Citizen argues the ads substantially overstate the benefits of diabetes drugs and negligently undermine the risks. Spokespeople for the drug companies stated that weight loss was seen in clinical trial for Bydureon, Invokana and Farxiga, and that “these secondary effects are important.”

These companies are acutely aware that at least 90% of type 2 diabetes patients are overweight or obese and the attempt to cash in on that is quite clear. There is a big difference between claims of benefits based on comprehensive, proven studies and claims based on superficial endpoints or appeals to vanity. The FDA has never reviewed the validity of weight loss with diabetes drugs.

Victoza Pancreatic Cancer

More important, however, should be disclosing the actual risks of these drugs. Victoza in particular should be noted, as it is being linked to serious pancreatic cancer development. In August 2013, a panel of federal judges decided to centralize all lawsuits naming Victoza, Janumet, Byetta and Januvia – all type 2 diabetes drugs in a class called incretin mimetics.

These cases are now known as Incretin Mimetics Products Liability Litigation. The allegations against these drugs are all similar, involving pancreatic diseases.

Patients with type 2 diabetes turn to drugs because of the advertisements by Big Pharma proclaiming the drugs will not only control their diabetes, but also help them lose weight and control their blood pressure. What the promotions fail to mention is that the drugs can actually cause the development of a far worse disease: cancer.

The pancreas aids in digestion, secretes insulin and helps regulate how sugars are metabolized; so it makes sense that a medication that alters the body’s insulin levels could negatively affect the pancreas. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer has an extremely poor prognosis and survival rate, even when it is caught early. Pancreatic cancer typically spreads very quickly and is a leading cause of cancer death.

Victoza, Januvia, Byetta and Janumet are also associated with acute pancreatitis, necrotizing pancreatitis, and hemorrhagic pancreatitis, all of which are life-threatening. Even patients who stop taking these drugs after showing symptoms of pancreas injury may continue to suffer adverse effects. 

All drugs mentioned in the letter to the FDA have serious, potentially catastrophic side effects. Public Citizen argues that the FDA has not properly enforced misleading drug marketing in recent years; that it has a dismal record of promotional enforcement. The FDA promises to review and carefully consider the letter.

Our team of dangerous drug lawyers is currently accepting cases of serious injury, sickness or death from medications. We accept cases nationwide and provide free legal consultations to anyone with legal questions regarding pharmaceutical law or other personal injury matters.