The Dangers of Onglyza

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2018 at 4:47 pm    

A relatively new medication on the market, Onglyza®, is used to treat type 2 diabetes in adults. It was first approved by the FDA in 2009 to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar.1 Onglyza works by boosting incretin levels in the body. Incretins control blood sugar by increasing the release of insulin, especially after meals. They also decrease the amount of sugar your liver produces.

The drug has grown in popularity because it’s less likely to cause weight gain than other diabetes drugs, but this benefit comes with potentially dangerous side effects, such as:

  • Risk of heart failure: An FDA safety review has found that medicines containing saxagliptin (the active ingredient in Onglyza) may increase the risk of heart failure, especially in patients who already have heart or kidney disease. The study found a 27 percent increase in hospitalization for heart failure in those who took saxagliptin versus those on a placebo.2 Signs of heart failure include shortness of breath, trouble breathing when lying down, tiredness and weight gain with swelling in the legs and stomach.
  • Low blood sugar: Hypoglycemia may worsen in people who are taking other diabetes drugs, such as insulin, in addition to Onglyza. Symptoms of low blood sugar are shakiness, hunger, sweating, headache, rapid heartbeat and vision changes.
  • Joint pain: Some people who take Onglyza develop severe and disabling joint pain.
  • Pancreatitis: Researchers at UCLA and the University of Florida linked Onglyza to abnormal pancreatic growth. They found that cell mass was increased 40 percent in the pancreases of patients with type 2 diabetes who were treated with incretin therapy.3

Talk to your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms, or report them to the FDA.

Preventing Severe Side Effects

Your doctor will prescribe Onglyza to you if they determine that the benefits outweigh the risks. That said, there are steps you can take to lower your chance of experiencing severe side effects.

  1. Tell your doctor/pharmacist if you are allergic to saxagliptin or any other ingredient.
  2. Explain your medical history, including any history of kidney disease, pancreatitis, high levels of fats in the blood and heart failure.
  3. The drug can cause blurred vision and drowsiness, so don’t drive or use machinery while taking it until you determine that it’s safe to do so.
  4. Limit alcohol while taking this medicine because it can increase the risk of low blood sugar and pancreatitis.
  5. Pregnancy may cause or worsen diabetes. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about your plan to manage your blood sugar, without medication if possible.

Onglyza Lawsuits

Onglyza met the FDA’s cardiovascular safety criteria when it was approved, but the agency had concerns about the clinical trials and asked manufacturer AstraZeneca to perform a post-marketing study. That trial found the connection between Onglyza and heart failure. The drug is now required to carry warnings about the risk of heart failure, joint pain and pancreatitis.

Despite these printed warnings, numerous lawsuits have been filed against AstraZeneca claiming the company didn’t sufficiently warn patients about heart failure risks. The heart failure side effect was not made public until 2014, and a warning label was not added until 2016.4 Some of these cases are geared toward compensation for alleged losses, such as medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Others are wrongful death lawsuits filed by grieving family members who claim their loved one died from taking Onglyza.

Should I File a Lawsuit?

If you or a family member has experienced severe side effects after taking Onglyza, you’re may be eligible to file a lawsuit. These are some of the benefits of filing:

  • Compensation for financial hardships
  • Relief from emotional pain and suffering

Filing a Lawsuit in Alabama

When a loved one dies or becomes ill due to something unexpected, such as taking Onglyza, their family is often left shocked, heartbroken and not sure where to turn. Though this is a difficult time, it’s likely in your family’s best interest to contact a lawyer and determine if a lawsuit is justified.

The attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt are experienced with Alabama law and have represented many families who have lost loved ones as well as those dealing with an unexpected illness. Our firm has worked with personal injury victims in the Birmingham area for more than 20 years, and we’ll never stop fighting to get the compensation you and your family deserve.

Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP is here to help serve justice. Visit us online or call 205-324-1212 to speak with our team about a free case evaluation.

1 https://www.drugs.com/history/onglyza.html

2 https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm486096.htm

3 http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-university-of-florida-research-244467

4 https://www.classaction.com/onglyza/lawsuit/

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