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Victoza Linked to Serious Side Effects

Victoza is a type 2 diabetes treatment that was approved by the FDA in 2010.  Victoza has become the subject of much media attention due both to the severity of its side effects, and the celebrity endorsement deals meant to increase sales of such a dangerous drug.

Serious side effects of Victoza include:

  • Thyroid cancer and tumors
  • Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer
  • Renal failure

Often there are no symptoms of thyroid cancer in its early stages, but in progressive stages symptoms include:

  • Feeling a lump in the throat
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Developing a hoarse voice
  • Pain in the neck and throat
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes

Symptoms of Pancreatitis include:

  • Upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increase in heart rate

Symptoms of Renal failure include:

  • Changes in the color of urine
  • Little or no urine when you urinate
  • Swelling that starts at the feet and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the back, below the rib cage
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling confused, anxious, or restless

Backlash After Victoza’s Approval

In April of 2012, Public Citizen, a not-for-profit consumer advocacy group, filed a petition with the FDA asking that due to the known dangers of Victoza, it be removed from the market.  It pointed to the vast amount of evidence of Victoza’s dangerous side effects, which had been known by the FDA at the time of approval.  Specifically, the following problems were revealed during the approval process:

  • Thyroid Problems:  In patients taking Victoza in the pre-approval process, there was a three-fold increase in thyroid cancer, and a 2.4-fold increase in cancerous cells in the thyroid compared to other diabetes treatments.  This increase was seen in the rodent testing phase as well.
  • Pancreatic Problems:  In patients taking Victoza, there was a 3.7-fold increase in pancreatitis than other diabetes drugs.

In addition, Public Citizen pointed out that Victoza was approved against the recommendations of several top FDA scientists, including 2 FDA reviewing pharmacologists, and 1 FDA clinical safety reviewer.  The safety reviewer pointed out that with 11 different classes of drugs available to treat type 2 diabetes, there was no need to approve a drug with such a known dangerous profile.  Despite this dissent, the FDA approved Victoza.

Victoza Receives a Black Box Warning, Amongst Others

In the summer of 2012, the FDA decided that the risk of thyroid cancer and tumors was high enough that a black box warning, the strongest warning the FDA can issue a drug, would be added to Victoza.  Label warnings were also added warning of the risk of acute renal failure, and the worsening of chronic renal failure.

It is not only in the United States that Novo Nordisk and Victoza face problems.  In the United Kingdom, the UK Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority rebuked Novo Nordisk for promoting Victoza before its application was approved, and for making misleading claims and comparisons.

Manufacturer of Victoza Driven by Profits

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Victoza, has been criticized for putting safety concerns aside and instead focusing solely on increasing its profits.  Over 2 million prescriptions a year have been written since Victoza was approved, and as can be seen by its securing highly public, celebrity endorsements, Novo Nordisk is interested solely in pushing this number higher, despite of the known risks to patients.  The drug giant is also looking to get approval for Victoza as a weight-loss drug as well.

In 2012, Novo Nordisk paid celebrity chef Paula Deen $6 million to publicly endorse Victoza.  Deen, who had until then been private about her struggle with type 2 diabetes, became the very public, albeit controversial, spokeswoman of the drug.

University of North Carolina professor of medicine Nortin Hadler published an article in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology asserting that there are no proven benefits to any of these drugs that lower blood sugar levels in diabetes drugs, and that they are solely pushed by drug makers because they are huge money makers.  Even if Novo Nordisk stands behind the effectiveness of diabetes drugs, with its continuous push of Victoza as a safe diabetes treatment, it has clearly chosen to put its profits above the health and safety of patients.

Call a Victoza Attorney at Kirkendall Dywer LLP Today to Discuss Your Case

At Kirkendall Dwyer LLP, we believe that if a pharmaceutical company is going to profit from a treatment that it touts as safe, then that treatment should actually be safe.  Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Novo Nordisk continues to insist that Victoza is a safe diabetes treatment.  If you or a loved one have been injured by Victoza or another drug, call one of our attorneys today, or fill out our free consultation form.  Let us help you recover the compensation you deserve.