Why are Individuals with Pancreatic Cancer Suing Diabetes Drug (incretin) Manufacturers?

While helpful in reducing blood sugar levels, certain diabetes medications (incretins) can actually overstimulate the pancreas, resulting in inflammation, pancreatitis, and even pancreatic cancer. In fact, studies show a doubled increased risk of developing pancreatitis, a precursor to, and cause of, pancreatic cancer, in patients using these medications.

Lawsuits filed in this litigation allege that, despite having knowledge that these drugs cause pancreatic cancer, rather than taking steps to pull the drugs from the market or provide stronger warnings, manufacturers put profits before patients’ safety by continuing to promote these drugs as safe and effective treatments for adults with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Medications (incretins) Linked to Causing Pancreatic Cancer

·  Byetta·  Januvia
·  Janumet·  Onglyza
·  Janumet XR·  Victoza

Why are Incretins Prescribed & How do They Work?

There are actually two types of incretin medications: GLP-1 Receptor Agonists (incretin mimetics) and DPP-4 inhibitors prescribed to type 2 diabetics to help lower their blood sugar levels. But now that you know the why (why these drugs are prescribed), it is helpful to understand how (how these drugs work).

Following a meal, our food is broken down into glucose (sugar), which our bodies then convert into the energy we need to perform life’s daily tasks (breathing, moving, thinking, etc.). Often characterized as a “transporter,” insulin attaches to the sugar molecules in the blood and transports them into the muscle, fat, and/or liver cells. Within these cells, the glucose is metabolized (broken down) into the energy our bodies need to function.

Without insulin, our bodies would be unable to properly digest food or garner the energy needed to function throughout the day. However, too much insulin can also be a bad thing. Our bodies have a unique “checks and balance system” to produce the insulin needed for digestion, but to also make sure our blood sugar levels remain at an adequate level (aren’t dropping too low).

This checks and balance system is performed by a series of hormones (incretins) and digestive enzymes (DPP-4).

Incretins are hormones released throughout the day by the cells in the small intestine. Within minutes of eating, our bodies release even more incretins that stimulate the pancreas to produce another hormone, insulin, which we know helps to transport sugar from the blood into the cells.

Also within minutes of eating, various cells throughout the body produce DPP-4 enzymes, which deactivate the incretin hormones. Deactivating the incretin hormones stops them from stimulating the pancreas and halts insulin production. Causatively, this helps to prevent our blood sugar levels from dropping too low.

When the pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin as it should, this results in a buildup or excess, of sugar in the blood. Typically, it is when the pancreas reaches this point of damage (not being able to produce insulin as it should), that a person is diagnosed with diabetes.

With type 2 diabetics, the ultimate concern is increasing insulin production, which in turn will lower their blood sugar levels. One of the primary treatments for type 2 diabetes is drug therapy.

More specifically, incretins are prescribed to type 2 diabetics to help increase insulin production by either (a) stimulating the pancreas to produce extra insulin (incretin mimetics); or (b) preventing the deactivation of the incretin hormones (DPP-4 inhibitors).

Either way, the pancreas is stimulated to produce added insulin, which works to remove the sugar from the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, there can be too much of a good thing. While the added insulin production is helpful in lowering blood sugar levels, the wear and tear on the pancreas to produce that insulin is not.

Pushing the pancreas to produce more insulin as this class of diabetes medications (incretins) does, significantly increases the user’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer. In fact, one study found that pancreatic mass was increased by approximately 40% in diabetics who treated with incretin-based therapies, compared to that in individuals with diabetes not treated with such agents.


Currently, The Yost Legal Group is investigating claims from all 50 states that these diabetes medications (incretins) cause the development of pancreatic cancer.

Free consultation: Call 1-800-YOST LAW or complete the contact form below to learn more about how we can help.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after taking Byetta, Victoza, Januvia, or any of the other medications listed above, please contact our dangerous drug attorneys today at 1-800-YOST-LAW.