LawyersandSettlements.com Interviews Byetta Lawsuit Attorney on Upcoming Byetta Trial Set for November - Seven Million Pairs of Eyes on California Trial in November

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As the first Byetta lawsuit approaches its trial date, LawyersandSettlements.com spoke with attorney Brian Depew regarding allegations that Amylin and Eli Lilly knew, or should have known, that Byetta had the potential to trigger pancreatitis in diabetes patients who were taking the medication.

Given that type 2 diabetes is so common amongst the American population with 18.8 million individuals having been diagnosed as of 2011 according to the American Diabetes Association*, countless diabetes patients rely on diabetes drugs to control their blood sugar levels. One drug that has been on the market for less than ten years, but for which seven million prescriptions have been written**, lies at the center of a trial scheduled to get underway in California next month (Sandy Crabb et al, plaintiff v. Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Eli Lilly and Company Case No. BC 403936, Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles – Central Civil West).

At issue is Byetta, a drug manufactured and distributed by Amylin and Eli Lilly that was approved by the US Food and drug Administration (FDA) in 2005. Within two years the federal regulator was out with a warning that Byetta had been linked to acute pancreatitis in a number of diabetes patients using Byetta.***

The plaintiffs in the Byetta lawsuit claim their injuries occurred prior to the first FDA warning in 2007. Plaintiffs hold that Amylin and Eli Lilly knew, or should have known that Byetta had the potential to trigger pancreatitis, an acute condition that can cause serious injury and in severe cases, death.

Clyde Rudd is a plaintiff in the Byetta lawsuit on behalf of his late spouse Helen Rudd. According to the lawsuit, Helen Rudd was prescribed Byetta and began using the medication on, or about June 2007. Within six months, Rudd began to exhibit health distress that led to her hospitalization and an eventual diagnosis of pancreatitis. She died in January, 2009 from complications some 18 months following her first use of Byetta.

The Byetta lawsuit lead plaintiff, Sandy Crabb, also began using Byetta in 2007 – specifically, March of that year – and according to the lawsuit Crabb began experiencing signs of health distress within days of starting the medication. Crabb was also subsequently diagnosed with pancreatitis.

Of the seven plaintiffs and their families pursuing the Byetta lawsuit, two plaintiffs died from complications related to a diagnosis of pancreatitis. LawyersandSettlements.com recently interviewed Los Angeles lawyer Brian Depew, from the firm of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack (ELL), who represents the plaintiffs in the Byetta lawsuit.

“[Amylin and Eli Lilly] knew or should have known that there is a risk with this drug and it required a warning, and that they failed to do so,” said Depew, in comments to LawyersandSettlements.com.

What’s more, a noted expert in diabetes research from the UK also spoke with LawyersandSettlements.com. “Changes in pancreatic enzymes” should be seen as an important change to pancreas function and a likely cause of pancreatitis, noted Dr. Edwin Gale, emeritus professor at the School of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol,

“We don’t know what these changes mean precisely, but it would be consistent with sub-clinical inflammation of the pancreas,” Gale said.

Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas usually accompanied by abdominal pain and vomiting. It is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure or heart failure and it can also lead to chronic pancreatitis.****

Plaintiffs in the Byetta lawsuit also claim to have incurred medical expenses, lost-time income and permanent injuries, as well as emotional suffering.

The November trial will be of interest to the plaintiffs involved in other Byetta cases, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Byetta patients currently using Byetta to control their type 2 diabetes.

** Federal Drug Administration, Byetta Safety Update for Healthcare Professionals (updated 8/15/13), http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/ucm190406.htm
***Federal Drug Administration, Information for Healthcare Professionals: Exenatide (marketed as Byetta)
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm124713.htm
****National Institutes of Health Medline Plus, "Acute Pancreatitis", Update January 20, 2010, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000287.htm

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