Michael Goetz Named to Januvia, Byetta MDL Plaintiffs' Steering Committee

Michael Goetz, the head of Morgan & Morgan’s class action and mass tort section, has been named to the plaintiffs’ steering committee for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving Byetta, Januvia, Janumet, and Victoza.

Goetz was named to the plaintiffs’ steering committee by the Honorable Judge Anthony J. Battaglia, who is overseeing the MDL involving incretin-based Type 2 diabetes drugs and their alleged link to pancreatic cancer.  

“It is a privilege that the Honorable Judge Battaglia selected me as part of the plaintiffs’ steering committee to help patients and their loved ones move forward with their claims,” Goetz said. “Any progress made in this case is a step in the right direction, a step towards accountability.”

In August 2013, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federal lawsuits involving the drugs to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The reasoning for this, according to the JPML, is that the plaintiffs all make “highly similar allegations” about the drugs’ alleged connection to pancreatic cancer. Although the panel noted that they are typically hesitant to consolidate suits against companies that make, market, and sell similar products, the MDL was created because there are “substantial efficiencies  to be gained” by centralizing the litigation.

The MDL centers on the alleged link between pancreatic cancer and a group of four Type 2 diabetes drugs known in the medical community as incretin-mimetics. By working to reduce blood sugar levels, it is believed that these drugs increase Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor activity, which, medical experts theorize, may put patients at a much greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Plaintiffs in the MDL allege the makers of Januvia, Byetta, Janumet, and Victoza were aware of this risk, yet failed to properly notify doctors and patients in the marketing and sale of the drugs.

“We expect to prove that taking these drugs creates a heightened risk of developing pancreatic cancer that doctors and patients were not warned about,” Goetz said. “My goal as part of the plaintiff’s steering committee is to not only work in the best interests of each plaintiff, but to find out exactly what these drug manufacturers knew in connection with the risks posed by their products.”

As of October 2013, according to the JPML’s website, there are 150 cases currently included in MDL involving incretin mimetic diabetes drugs. Legal experts, however, predict thousands more may join the suit as more Type 2 diabetes patients question the connection between pancreatic cancer and use of one or more of the four drugs.