Invokana was approved by the FDA in 2013, and was hailed as a breakthrough drug in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. But the drug, the first in a family of medications called SGLT2 medications, can have serious side effects that cause suffering for many people who take it.
Normally, the kidneys reabsorb glucose (sugar) and send it back into the bloodstream. But Invokana-also known by its generic name canagliflozin-prevents that from happening and flushes excess glucose into the urine. This helps to keep blood sugar levels low.
But while that is a positive effect for people with type-2 diabetes, other side effects of this dangerous drug can be quite serious. For example, there is evidence that in some people, Invokana can lead to kidney damage. The function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste, including a byproduct of muscle activity called creatinine. In some people who take Invokana, creatinine levels rise, indicating the kidneys are not working properly.
This problem gained attention rather quickly. After receiving several reports of kidney failure among users of the drug, the FDA issued warnings and updated the warning label on Invokana to discuss the possibility of severe kidney damage.
Some users of Invokana could be more likely to develop kidney problems than others. These include people who are also taking ACE inhibitors, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). People who experienced congestive heart failure, circulation problems or previous kidney problems may also be at a higher risk.
Another risk involving the use of Invokana is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a potentially deadly medical condition that creates high levels of ketones in the bloodstream and causes the blood to become acidic.
During the approval process, there was also concern among an FDA panel of doctors and medical researchers that the use of Invokana increased the risk of blood clots that could lead to heart attack or stroke. But while a clinical study has been launched to evaluate the risk, the agency still approved the drug. It was one of several studies agreed to by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures and markets Invokana in the United States.
When completed, studies may reveal more about the risks of taking Invokana. But that is of little use to people with diabetes who are taking them now and are already suffering from the side effects.
Lawsuits have already been filed against Janssen. They claim that the pharmaceutical giant was negligent by manufacturing a defective drug, failing to warn the risks of taking that drug, and misrepresenting the drug's risks and benefits.
If you are taking Invokana and are experiencing side effects, take action immediately. Talk to your doctor. Then call a lawyer who can go over your legal options with you.