Victoza (liraglutide) works by targeting the pancreas, stimulating it to produce more insulin. Unfortunately, clinical trials linked the drug to a 3.7-fold increased risk of acute pancreatitis, a severe condition that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen.
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Victoza (liraglutide) is an injection medication used by people with Type-2 Diabetes, which is a chronic metabolic disorder that occurs when a person’s cells are resistant to insulin. People with Type-2 diabetes have difficulty controlling blood-sugar (glucose) levels. Victoza helps control diabetes by mimicking the hormone GLP-1, which stimulates the pancreas to produce extra insulin after food is eaten.
Victoza is sold by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. The FDA approved Victoza in early 2010, despite the fact that three FDA drug-safety experts recommended against approving Victoza.
Public Citizen Calls for Immediate Ban of Victoza
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, sent a petition to the FDA in April of 2012 calling for an immediate ban of Victoza. The group cited multiple serious safety concerns with the drug, including:
- Clinical trials showed that acute pancreatitis was 3.7-times more likely to occur in people who were given Victoza instead of another comparable diabetes medication
- The FDA received 200 reports of acute pancreatitis in the first 17 months after Victoza was approved. Only about 10% of diseases are ever reported to the FDA, which means that there may have been 2,000 actual cases. Because Victoza has been approved for several years now, there may be several thousand cases of Victoza pancreatitis in total.
- Before Victoza was approved, three drug-safety experts recommended against approving Victoza, because the risk of serious side effects outweighed any benefits, especially when there are already numerous other diabetes drugs already available
What is Acute Pancreatitis?
Acute Pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation and swelling of the pancreas. The pancreas is a digestive gland that secretes insulin, a hormone that tells cells to absorb blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream. Victoza and many other diabetes drugs target the pancreas, and most increase a diabetic person’s risk of acute pancreatitis. There is evidence linking Victoza to a higher risk of pancreatitis than other drugs, however.
In a severe case of Victoza pancreatitis, the inflammation of the pancreas cuts off the supply of blood to pancreatic tissue. Without oxygenated blood, this tissue begins to die within minutes (called pancreatic necrosis). Once tissue begins to die, this can lead to uncontrollable organ inflammation, multiple organ-system failure, and death.
Even if the inflammation is controlled, acute pancreatitis can become deadly. The necrotized pancreatic tissue has a much higher risk of becoming infected. It may be necessary for the patient to undergo emergency surgery to remove the dead pancreatic tissue. When acute pancreatitis progresses to this point, the risk of death increases from 10% to 40% or higher.
Symptoms of Victoza Pancreatitis
The symptoms of acute pancreatitis may appear suddenly, or they may gradually worsen over several days. The first symptoms is almost always abdominal pain that grows steadily worse in the region of the abdomen where the pancreas is located (the upper-left, middle abdomen). In early stages, this pain may grow worse when the person consumes fatty drinks or foods. The pain may begin to spread to the back, below the left shoulder blade.
Symptoms of Victoza pancreatitis include, but are not limited to:
- Abdominal pain, tenderness
- The person usually looks and feels very sick
- Bloating, which may be painful
- Swollen abdomen
- Fever, nausea, vomiting, sweating
- Abnormally fast heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Clay-colored stools
- Jaundice (mild yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes)
Do I have a Victoza Pancreatitis Lawsuit?
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