Byetta® and Pancreatitis

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Byetta® and pancreatitis are suspected to be linked, based on cases of acute pancreatitis in Byetta® users reported to the FDA. Byetta® was first released on the U.S. market in the spring of 2005. Although the Byetta®–pancreatitis link is still being investigated by the FDA and by Byetta's® manufacturers, Amlyn and Eli Lilly and Company, the FDA issued a second, stronger warning about the Byetta® and pancreatitis connection in August 2008. 

Byetta® and Hemorrhagic or Necrotizing Pancreatitis

The second FDA warning referred to six reports of hemorrhagic pancreatitis or necrotizing pancreatitis in patients treated with Byetta®. Several deaths of Byetta® users due to pancreatitis have also been documented. Pancreatitis is a very serious medical event — a severe inflammation of the pancreas, a large and important organ that secretes both hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars and enzymes that help digestion. 

The Pancreas Attacks Itself

Most cases of pancreatitis are due to heavy, long-term use of alcohol, or to gallstones. However, it is believed that treatment for Type 2 diabetes with the injection-pen Byetta® may result in pancreatitis, in which the digestive enzymes in the pancreas attack the pancreas itself. The pancreatitis may be "acute," meaning that it appears suddenly and becomes severe very quickly, or "chronic," meaning that it appears gradually and persists over a period of months or even years. 

Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Symptoms of both acute and chronic Byetta®-related pancreatitis include: 

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • mild to severe abdominal pain 

Complications of Acute Pancreatitis

Cases of acute pancreatitis can lead to dangerous and life-threatening complications, including: 

  • spreading of the infection
  • organ failure
  • pseudocysts
  • abscess
  • shock
  • respiratory failure 

Complications of Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis can lead to a number of alarming complications — both those listed above and: 

  • fatal bleeding
  • malnutrition
  • addiction to pain medications
  • pancreatic cancer (one of the most deadly forms of cancer) 

If You Think You Have Been Injured by Byetta®

If you think you’ve been injured as a result of using Byetta®, contact our attorney to discuss your circumstances.


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