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Victoza Side Effects: Public Citizen Asks FDA to Take Victoza off the Market

Dallas, Texas, April 20, 2012—In January, popular chef Paula Deen announced her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis and said she was endorsing diabetes drug Victoza. As news grew over the announcement so did the questions about Victoza and its dangerous side effects.

Victoza Side Effects
Approved in January 2010 for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, Victoza has grown in popularity since Paula Deen's public endorsement. She and others claim that weight loss is just one positive side effect of the drug. Even though Victoza is not approved for weight loss, doctors have been prescribing it to patients as a weight loss drug, potentially putting these patients at risk of serious side effects.

Some of Victoza’s most dangerous side effects include the following:

  • Victoza thyroid cancer - Victoza's label states it is unknown whether Victoza will cause thyroid cancer in humans. Yet in pre-approval studies, patients taking Victoza showed a risk nearly three times that of other diabetes patients of developing papillary thyroid cancer, and a more than doubled risk of developing thyroid C-cell hyperplasia.
  • Victoza pancreatitis - In clinical trials of Victoza, patients had a more than tripled risk of developing pancreatitis versus diabetes patients taking other diabetes drugs. Public Citizen warns that “additional new cases of pancreatitis continue to be reported to the FDA in alarming numbers . . . In the first 17 months of Victoza being on the market, 200 patients were diagnosed with acute pancreatitis” as reported to the FDA’s adverse events reporting system (AERS). Only an estimated 10 percent of these adverse events are actually reported, meaning thousands of patients may have already suffered pancreatitisas a result of taking Victoza.
  • Victoza serious allergic reactions - In clinical trials, Victoza caused serious allergic reactions in nearly 10 percent of patients, causing an increased risk of infection in both the upper and lower respiratory tract, reactions at the injection site, and joint pain.
  • Victoza gastrointestinal adverse events - One of the main reasons why Victoza causes weight loss is because side effects of the drug are nausea and vomiting. Victoza patients lose weight because they feel too nauseous to eat. Other side effects include diarrhea and constipation. Patients taking Victoza are twice as likely as patients on other diabetes drugs to experience gastrointestinal adverse events, the symptoms of which often mask more serious problems like renal failure and pancreatitis.

Victoza Risks Outweigh Benefits
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen has filed a petition with the FDA to take Victoza off the market because of the high risks of thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure it poses to diabetes patients. Public Citizen says that the benefits of the drug are outweighed by these looming safety concerns.

In October 2008, Public Citizen brought a similar petition against Avandia, asking the FDA to take the drug off the market because of the adverse events like heart attacks, heart failure, liver failure, and bone fractures had been associated with the drug. Finally in 2010, the FDA restricted Avandia prescriptions to a limited number of patients, but did not take the drug off the market completely.

According to Dr. Karen Mahoney of Public Citizen,

“The need for new therapies for Type 2 Diabetes is not so urgent that one must tolerate a significant degree of uncertainty regarding serious risk concerns.”

Public Citizen points out that other Type 2 Diabetes drugs are available on the market that do not have the dangerous side effects Victoza does. Nevertheless, an estimated 150,000 Victoza prescriptions are filled each month, resulting in nearly two million prescriptions filled each year.

Dangerous Drugs Similar to Victoza
Other diabetes drugs that are notably similar to Victoza include Byetta and Januvia, both of which have also been found to cause pancreatitis and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Many experts say that the risks these drugs pose outweigh their benefits, especially because patients with Type 2 diabetes have other options to control their diabetes including safer diabetes drugs and diet and exercise. In fact, studies have shown that some patients may be able to reverse a diagnosis of diabetes simply by changing their diet and by exercising more.

To learn more about dangerous drugs and the pressure the pharmaceutical industry exerts on the FDA to approve dangerous drugs, download my free e-book Prescription Drug Safety: 7 Secrets the Pharmaceutical Industry Does NOT Want You to Know.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from Victoza side effects, call the experienced Dallas dangerous drug attorney at Van Wey Law today at (214) 329-1350, or (800) 489-5082, for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.


Kay Van Wey
Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

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