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Byetta Side Effects FAQ

Byetta is a medication used to treat Type-2 diabetes. Byetta is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) that acts on the brain to reduce appetite and regulate blood glucose levels. This drug comes in a prefilled pen. It is an injectable drug; most patients use their Byetta pen twice daily.

Byetta has worked to both control blood sugar levels and trigger weight loss. However, many patients have reported both mild and severe side effects. Studies have also linked the long-acting version of the drug to various forms of cancer, including thyroid cancer. As a result, thousands of patients have filed lawsuits against the drug's manufacturer, AstraZeneca.

In this section, we will answer common questions about Byetta. If you have questions or concerns about Byetta, contact your healthcare provider. If you believe Byetta has harmed you, contact a personal injury attorney.

What is Byetta?

Byetta (Exenatide) is a diabetes drug. Patients taking Byetta inject it twice daily to help their body metabolize blood sugar (glucose). High blood sugar is the main characteristic of diabetes, and medications such as Byetta promise to help patients manage their blood sugar levels.

Byetta belongs to a class of similar diabetes drugs called incretin mimetics. AstraZeneca has produced and sold Byetta since 2014. Many patients take Byetta and other medications like metformin to help control their diabetes.

How does Byetta treat diabetes?

Most diabetics manage their blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and insulin injections. When these measures prove insufficient, doctors may prescribe Byetta for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Byetta and other incretin mimetic drugs treat diabetes by focusing on the pancreas's production of insulin and glucagon.

Byetta is a receptor agonist. This means it works on the brain to convince a person's body that they aren't hungry. It also makes the person feel fuller for longer and helps reduce their appetite and their cravings for foods high in sugar.

What are some things to know about Byetta?

If you are considering taking Byetta or are already on the medication, there are things that you should know:

  • The FDA only approved Byetta for patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The FDA does not recommend this drug for patients with type 1 diabetes.
  • Byetta is not a substitute for insulin.
  • Byetta is supposed to complement your diet and exercise regimen. No diabetes medication can be a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Many patients lose weight after starting Byetta. For many people, this is a positive side effect. However, significant weight loss can also indicate something is wrong.

You must see your healthcare professional often to ensure that you are okay when using any medication.

What are the mild side effects of Byetta?

As with most other drugs, Byetta does have common side effects. These can be relatively minor problems or potentially serious. Minor side effects can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Injection-site reactions
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Chills
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Bloating
  • Excessive weight loss

There is no evidence that Byetta affects your blood pressure. However, if you notice a significant change in your blood pressure or symptoms of low blood sugar, call your primary healthcare provider immediately.

Are there more serious side effects of Byetta?

One reason so many patients have sued AstraZeneca is that Byetta can cause severe side effects. Some serious Byetta side effects can be life-threatening. For example, several patients reported developing pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer after taking Byetta.

Other serious side effects include the following:

  • Feeling jittery
  • Constipation
  • Low blood sugar
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Issues with kidney function

There is no evidence that Byetta affects your blood pressure. However, if you notice a significant change in your blood pressure or symptoms of low blood sugar, call your primary healthcare provider immediately.

Numerous studies have found an association between the drug and pancreas ailments. There's also concern that Byetta is associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

What happens if you're allergic to Byetta?

One of the risks of taking a new prescription drug is that you may have an allergic reaction. Your doctor will check for any adverse drug interactions. They'll also do their best to anticipate any allergies.

You should also review the medication guide and any prescribing information to see if you may be allergic. People who are allergic to Byetta experience additional side effects, including:

  • Hives
  • Rash or skin irritation
  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth, and throat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest tightening

You must see your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. If this isn't possible, go to the emergency room.

Does Byetta increase the risk of pancreatitis?

Multiple studies and post-marketing reports have found that Byetta can increase a patient's risk of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. It can lead to worsened diabetes, kidney failure, infection, and even death. The chief symptoms of acute pancreatitis include upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several warnings about this risk. In October 2007, the FDA advised doctors not to prescribe Byetta to patients with pancreatitis. You will find more alerts on Byetta's FDA postmarket drug safety page.

Does Byetta increase the risk of pancreatic cancer?

There's a growing debate over whether Byetta increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. The medical community remains divided on the subject. Some studies have found that these drugs increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Other studies have found that they do not.

However, the seriousness of this concern has drawn attention. It has also caused thousands of patients to sue the drug manufacturer. Some patients who claim to have developed pancreatic cancer after taking Byetta have sued the drug's manufacturer.

Does Byetta cause other forms of cancer?

The long-acting version of Byetta has warnings for thyroid cancer. To date, none of the clinical trials have involved humans. However, in the studies that do exist, researchers found that Byetta caused tumors in the thyroid. Evidence shows that drugs similar to Byetta may cause thyroid cancer.

Some of these drugs include the following:

  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • Liraglutide (Victoza)
  • Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy)
  • Long-acting Exenatide (Byetta) Bydureon Bcise

See your doctor immediately if you've taken Byetta or any other drug and developed thyroid cancer. You may also need to talk to a product liability attorney. You may have a legal claim for damages.

Does Byetta affect the gallbladder?

Studies have shown that Byetta may cause gallbladder issues, from gallstones to cholecystitis (inflammation). Of course, there is ample evidence linking obesity to gallbladder problems. Since obesity can cause issues with Type-2 diabetes, there's a chance that your gallbladder stones or inflammation may related to something other than Byetta.

Your attorney must prove that your health issues were caused by the drug and not other factors, such as personal diet, physical health, and lifestyle.

Is Byetta safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Pregnant and nursing women must be careful about any medications they take. While there have not been any studies of the effects of Byetta on humans, there have been plenty of studies on animals.

According to these studies, Byetta did cause fetal harm in animals. Some of the issues caused by the drug include:

  • Cleft palate
  • Neonatal death
  • Irregular skeletal ossification

The FDA created a registry where pregnant women can report any complications they experienced after taking Byetta while pregnant or nursing. If you are pregnant and wish to register, visit their Pregnant Registries site.

Can I use Byetta for weight loss?

Some people have been using similar Type-2 diabetes medications to lose weight and wonder if they can use Byetta as well. For example, many people without diabetes, especially celebrities, have taken Ozempic for rapid weight loss.

Byetta poses health risks and severe side effects that may outweigh the benefits of losing weight. Furthermore, not all diabetes patients experience weight loss. The FDA has not approved Byetta for weight loss. That is a possible side effect of the medication. Simply put, Byetta cannot replace a healthy diet and exercise.

Has AstraZeneca recalled Byetta?

To date, neither the FDA nor AstraZeneca have recalled Byetta. However, hundreds of patients have sued the drug manufacturer, alleging that the medication causes pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and kidney failure.

I Experienced Adverse Health Effects After Taking Byetta. What Should I Do?

Contact your doctor immediately if you took or are taking Byetta and have developed adverse health reactions. For patients who have suffered severe injuries, consider contacting an attorney to discuss your legal options.

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