A Los Angeles judge has thrown out more than 500 claims in a coordinated proceeding alleging that diabetes drugs made by Novo Nordisk, Merck, Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals cause pancreatic cancer, saying the plaintiffs’ experts failed to take into account all the available scientific literature on the subject.
In a 42-page ruling filed Tuesday, Judge William F. Highberger criticized the seven experts proffered by the plaintiffs, who alleged that the incretin-based therapies, such as Novo Nordisk Inc.’s medication Victoza, cause pancreatic cancer, saying that they ignored much of the available evidence, particularly data studies conducted in the last six years.
Three of the experts — toxicology expert Joseph Landolph, gastroenterology expert Graham Woolf and pathology expert Clive Taylor — by their own admission did not consider all of the available information, the judge wrote, while oncologist Robert Gale premised much of his opinion on the opinions of statisticians David Madigan and Martin Wells, leaving his opinion unreliable given the two others’ opinions were thrown out.
The remaining expert, cell biologist Thomas Brown, did plausibly explain how exposure to incretine in the drugs could stimulate cell growth, but his conclusion that this increased the risk of pancreatic cancer was “based on nothing more than hope or supposition,” the judge wrote, and Brown admitted that there was no link between that stimulated cell growth and cancer.
Without the support of credible expert opinions, the judge granted summary judgment to all four companies, but continued his analysis as to whether the claims are preempted under federal law.
The ruling does not affect claims in the coordinated proceeding that concern other diseases allegedly linked to the medications, and the judge asked the parties to file briefs with the court on how to address those cases.