AstraZeneca’s Onglyza is a medication used to treat patients who have Type 2 diabetes. However, the drug has been linked to several serious health conditions, including pancreatitis, cancer and heart failure. Baron & Budd may be able to help if you or someone close to you has experienced complications after taking Onglyza. Call 866-520-2755 or contact us online to learn more.
What is Onglyza?
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009, Onglyza is designed to help Type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar levels in conjunction with getting regular exercise and following a proper diet. It is meant for patients who do not also have a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, or high amounts of acid in the blood. Unlike some other diabetic medications, Onglyza does not result in weight gain, which at least partly accounts for its popularity. The drug accounted for more than $800 million in sales in 2014 alone.
How Onglyza Works
DPP-4 breaks down a hormone known as GLP-1. GLP-1 is very important because it provides a signal to the pancreas and instructs it to produce more insulin. By inhibiting the DPP-4 enzyme from breaking down GLP-1, it allows GLP-1 to stay in the body longer to allow the pancreas to produce more insulin. People with diabetes have too much sugar in their blood because their bodies do not make enough of the GLP-1 hormone, causing their pancreas to not produce enough insulin.
Onglyza also helps reduce blood sugar in diabetics by reducing the amount of the hormone glucagon produced by the pancreas. This hormone instructs the liver to make more glucose. Too much glucose in the blood can also lead to an excessive amount of blood sugar.
Potential Health Complications Resulting from Onglyza Use
Studies have shown that the use of Onglyza could increase the risk of pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis) as well as thyroid and pancreatic cancer. The medical journal Diabetes published a study in 2013 showing that people taking DPP-4 inhibitors such as Onglyza showed pre-cancerous cells in their pancreas.
According to the study, DPP-4 inhibitors increased the number of beta cells (which are responsible for producing insulin) in the pancreas. However, the beta cells were abnormal. The researchers also reported finding small tumors known as adenomas that, in some instances, can become malignant. The study found that these abnormalities were only present in people who took DPP-4 and GLP-1 medications, not in those with diabetes who took other medications.
There have been several other less serious side effects associated with Onglyza use, including headache, sore throat, diarrhea, urinary and upper respiratory tract infections, swelling, runny nose and more.
Onglyza and the FDA
The FDA added information about a potentially increased risk of pancreatitis to Onglyza’s warning label in 2011. This is a very serious condition that can lead to not only hospitalization but also death. It can also result in the development of pancreatic cancer.
In April 2015, an FDA panel recommended that the drug’s warning label also include a heightened risk of heart failure. The panel cited data from a study involving 16,000 patients that found those taking Onglyza were 27 percent more likely to suffer heart failure than other patients who were in a control group.
The agency also issued a safety warning for DPP-4 inhibitors in August 2015, citing a link between Onglyza use and severe joint pain. According to the FDA, more than 30 patients who took Onglyza and other DPP-4 inhibitors between October 2006 and December 2013 reported the condition.
How Baron & Budd Can Help
Many people who suffered health complications after taking Onglyza have filed lawsuits against AstraZeneca, alleging the company failed to properly disclose the potential health risks before making the medication available for public consumption. Plaintiffs in lawsuits are seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, wrongful death and more.
If you have diabetes you know all too well that you are often forced to make daunting choices between risking complications from the disease itself or complications from the medications you take. We know how frustrating your situation can be, and want to help you make the right decision as to whether or not filing an Onglyza lawsuit will be in your best interests.