Below are some of our videos explaining the potential dangers of Viberzi, and especially the connection to pancreatitis. To learn more about the types of injuries that have been linked to this medication, and the legal claims that have been filed, click Viberzi.
The Ring of Fire Addresses the Lawsuits Involving Viberzi
Farron Cousins: It seems like every few weeks there is a new drug in the news that's causing some kind of horrible side effects for patients, usually that the company knew about, yet failed to alert consumers about the real dangers of their product. Such is the case, we're finding out right now, with a drug called Viberzi. Joining me now to help tell the story of Viberzi is attorney Kim Adams. Kim has extensive knowledge of pharmaceuticals, has handled many cases against pharmaceutical companies. Kim, thanks for being here. Just right off the bat, what is Viberzi? Before we get into the dangers, what is it?
Kim Adams: Sure. Viberzi is a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome can be pain in your abdomen, it can be diarrhea, it can be lots of things that completely remove quality of life. It's a pretty significant condition, but it impacts millions of people every year. Viberzi is another drug in an entire group of drugs that has recently been put on the market to try to treat those symptoms.
Farron Cousins: And actually, irritable bowel syndrome is something that's kind of becoming more widespread in the US. It's something that more and more people are being diagnosed with.
Kim Adams: It is, and unfortunately, irritable bowel syndrome is something that they try to treat with medications, which we'll get into with this. It tries to calm down the colon, if you will, these medications do. But those symptoms are also similar with, if you have valve issue dysfunction, or gall bladder dysfunction. Sometimes those symptoms can overlap, so it's difficult to know what's causing what. Gall bladder, you know, people get their gall bladders removed all the time. I think that what we're finding, especially with this drug, is the impact that some of these medications that are supposed to only treat the colon are having on these other organs, either because they're absent, so you have an unexpected result, or because they're [dysfunctioning 00:01:57], and they're causing these same symptoms.
Farron Cousins: Right. That's one of the things I've read about with Viberzi, is that it becomes especially dangerous, and this is I guess where a lot of the lawsuits have arisen with Viberzi, is people who have had their gall bladder removed and then take the drug, that's where a lot of problems are coming up.
Kim Adams: That is. These drugs go on the market. We want manufacturers to be innovative. We want them to find helpful cures for all of these horrible symptoms that people are experiencing. The problem is, the science and the studies are so brief that they don't necessarily ... They're not able to really adequately warn against all the side effects, I think. In this instance, however, we know that they had a signal, because it's in their label that says, "If you don't have a gall bladder, you need to maybe reduce your dosage." What does that mean? What kind of reduced dosage?
We're not really sure, but what we have seen with this particular drug is, its only been on the market a very short time, just a couple of years, but we have seen several deaths related to pancreatitis, or the valve that I mentioned, the valve that sort of controls the bile and the other pancreatic juices that help break down all your food. That valve may stop working. So we have seen a couple of deaths with an immediate reaction, as soon as taking Viberzi. One or two doses, which sort of lends itself to show the causation of Viberzi causing that injury.
Farron Cousins: It's not frequently where we see somebody who takes even a horrible bad pharmaceutical, where they take it once or twice, and then death. That's rather instantaneous in terms of some of the other cases, the other products that we've looked at throughout all the years. That's something obviously consumers need to be aware of. This isn't something that, "Oh, you've been on it for six or eight months, maybe ..." you know. Two doses, and death, obviously is very bad. That seems like almost instantaneous reaction, that I think consumers ... In this case, the FDA eventually did come out, and didn't they say that if you've had your gall bladder removed, do not take it?
Kim Adams: They did.
Farron Cousins: But how many people took it before the FDA came out with this?
Kim Adams: Those are things that we're still finding, because of that subset of people where we saw several deaths, you also saw 120-plus people in that short time period that reacted with severe pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can kill you, but there are also minimal [pancreatitises 00:04:25], but most of the time it requires hospitalization for treatment. What we find most times, and these are just the events that were reported to the FDA. That's why the FDA comes out, because they see these signals, and they let the world know, "Hey, finally, we see enough of these that we think are related." We've estimated in the past that those adverse event reports may only constitute less than 10% of the true adverse events that are happening, because there's always a way to say something else may have been related. But we really want to, we think that there are a lot of these unfortunate situations out there, severe pancreatitis, death after Viberzi, that we feel the science is gonna show is related to this medication.
Farron Cousins: You brought up an interesting point there, and this is something that these pharmaceutical companies use. They tell these stories to the media, they tell them in court, they say, "Well, his or her particular thing wasn't from the drug, it was because they had a family history. Maybe they had diabetes as well, and that caused part of it. They were a smoker. They were inactive." They try to pin it on every other possible thing with a person, instead of acknowledging the very obvious fact of, well, okay, it happened to this person and it happened to a couple hundred more. What were their lifestyle habits? Are you gonna go ahead and attack personally each one of these people, or are you finally gonna admit that, you know what? We didn't do our due diligence in creating this or warning doctors. The FDA didn't do their part coming in sooner or requiring extensive testing. Last we've seen, FDA is actually trying to shorten the time span of testing to get these drugs on the market as quick as possible. It's all bad news for consumers. It always ends badly for them.
Kim Adams: It is. We sort of are guinea pigs. It's definitely a tight balance between getting those innovative drugs on the market. There are some conditions, cancer, you know, stage 4 cancer, that might warrant these risks. But when you have deaths, it's like how many deaths need to be available as far as the science goes, before you warn people, and let them make an informed decision. "We don't know if there's a cause." That's what they'll say. We find most often in the files and in the science, they already knew what was on. That's why they gave this inadequate warning, I think is what we allege with regard to Viberzi. How many deaths need to happen before that goes? Irritable bowel syndrome, not taking away from the severity and the quality of life. However, if someone feels as though there might be some of these other risks, and the risk of death, certainly I guarantee you they're gonna choose some other means to help cure their symptoms.
Farron Cousins: Absolutely. And it all comes down to if patients, consumers understand the risks, it helps them make informed decisions. But they can't understand the risk if the companies do not come forward with this.
Kim Adams: That's right. That's exactly why we do what we do.
Farron Cousins: We appreciate you doing everything that you do, Kim, and thank you for telling us the story today.
Kim Adams: Thank you.