On the same day that a Pennsylvania woman filed a new Onglyza (saxagliptin) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federally-filed Onglyza lawsuits into one court in the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Kentucky. About 85 Onglyza and Kombiglyze lawsuits now pending in the MDL are underway in Kentucky.
Another Onglyza lawsuit was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Cathy Nelson claims that Bristol-Myers Squibb, Astrazeneca, and McKesson Corporation did not adequately inform her or her doctor about the risk of heart failure linked to Onglyza use, and they purposefully deceived patients and the medical community. Nelson took Onglyza and Kombiglyze XR for about two years before she was diagnosed with signs and symptoms of heart failure requiring hospitalization. (Onglyza was developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Bristol Myers Squibb, and McKesson Corporation is the distributor.)
Despite increased awareness of Onglyza’s association with the risk of heart failure, type 2 diabetics are still taking it and doctors are still prescribing it. “According to my doctor the drug Onglyza is fine in the right dosage. I heard about the danger of heart failure associated with this drug but it does control my blood sugar,” says Dwight, age 65. Dwight has had two heart attacks since he started taking the drug about ten years ago. “I don’t know if Onglyza was the cause of my heart attacks. I had one doctor tell me that every drug you put in your body has a negative effect so it is a bit of a gamble.”
Dwight filed a complaint with LawyersandSettlements after he saw an ad on TV linking Onglyza to congestive heart failure and other serious cardio complications. He was shocked and angry – both with his doctor and the drug maker – for not being given an informed choice. Dwight talked to his doctor just yesterday about taking a drug that doesn’t come with such adverse side effects.
“And another problem I have with this drug is the cost,” says Dwight. “You’re looking at $500 per month, even with using my insurance. You have a lot of surprises when you get to be 65. Prior to that I paid $35 per month so part of my complaint is that I would like to get a bit of my money back.”
Onglyza and the FDA
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But in 2008 the FDA advised companies that were developing diabetes drugs to show that their products were not associated with an unacceptable increase in cardiovascular risk. And then in 2014, one year after the SAVOR study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the agency finally launched an investigation of heart failure risks with Onglyza. (The FDA confirmed that the SAVOR raw data and its subsequent study associated Onglyza with an increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure.)
Despite the warning that now comes with Onglyza, Dwight is still taking the drug. “I don’t know how attorneys can build a case to prove it did cause my heart attacks, but how do you prove it didn’t?” That’s what attorneys do.