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Byetta Issues and Safety Concerns

Byetta Issues

Exenatide, the drug marketed under the name Byetta, was originally manufactured by Amylin Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with Eli Lilly & Co. Byetta is prescribed in a prefilled pen and is used to control type 2 diabetes. Typically the patient will inject the medication one hour prior to the morning and evening meal. Exenatide is a synthetic form of a hormone which occurs naturally in the saliva of the Gila monster—a lizard which is large and venomous and native to the Southwest United States. The synthesized hormone is approximately fifty percent identical to a hormone found naturally in the human digestive tract known as GLP-1.

This hormone increases insulin to balance unduly high levels of blood sugar. The synthetic hormone found in Exenatide remains effective for a longer period of time than the natural human hormone thereby keeping blood sugar levels stable. Byetta also slows the rate at which the stomach empties, leading to a decrease in appetite and usually a loss of weight as well. Unfortunately, a number of Byetta issues have come to light in the past few years. Some of the potential Byetta safety concerns and Byetta dangers are listed below.

Serious Issues Associated with Byetta

Byetta pancreatic cancer and acute pancreatitis appear to occur more often in those taking Byetta than in diabetics who do not take the drug. In a recent study published in Gastroenterology, Dr. Peter Butler raised questions regarding a link between Byetta and thyroid cancer as well. This particular study placed the risks of a patient developing thyroid cancer after taking Byetta at 4.7 times the rate of the person who does not take the drug or another GLP-1 drug. While more research is warranted, thyroid cancer could be a serious issue facing Byetta users. The hormone used in Byetta is a synthesized version of the Gila monster saliva however pancreatitis has been found to occur in victims of Gila monsters due to the overstimulation of the pancreas. Since being approved in 2005, Byetta has been prescribed to nearly 700,000 people across the globe. The FDA issued the first alert regarding Byetta in 2007 in response to 30 post-marketing reports of Byetta patients who had developed acute pancreatitis.

Six of those patients experienced a significant increase in pancreatitis symptoms when their Byetta dosages were doubled. Twenty-two of the thirty patients showed marked symptom improvement once they stopped taking Byetta. The 2006 Diabetes Care journal detailed one specific case of a 69-year old man who developed severe abdominal pain within 24 hours of beginning Byetta. The patient was admitted to the hospital and his pancreatitis symptoms resolved once Byetta was discontinued. Overall, it appears that those taking Byetta have nearly three times the risk of developing pancreatic cancer as type 2 diabetics who take another diabetic drug, and at least six times the risk of developing acute pancreatitis. Additionally, thyroid cancer and kidney disease have been found to be more common among those taking Byetta.

Other Byetta Side Effects

Byetta diabetes medication side effects—other than the serious ones detailed above include the following which are serious and require immediate medical attention:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat from an allergic reaction to Byetta
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Decrease in urination or cessation of urination
  • Confusion, unusual drowsiness, extreme mood changes, increased thirst
  • A constant dull pain in the middle or lower back
  • Severe pain in the upper stomach which spreads to the back, accompanied by a fast heart rate and vomiting
  • Jaundice

Less serious side effects of Byetta include nausea, upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, minor dizziness, indigestion and jittery feelings.

Those who have suffered harm as a result of taking Byetta or have Byetta safety concerns are advised to consult a legal professional such as an attorney at the Law Firm of Sullo & Sullo, LLP. Our dedicated attorneys will discuss the particulars of the individual’s case then will lay out the options available. We will never recommend Byetta legal action unless we believe the harm suffered from the dangerous drug warrants a claim. Those who have developed acute pancreatitis, pancreatic or thyroid cancer or kidney problems should be compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Our Sullo & Sullo attorneys will look to ensure you do not miss the Byetta statute of limitations and that your claim is handled professionally and in a timely manner.

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