Dangerous Side Effects put Diabetes Drug Invokana under Scrutiny

Dangerous drugs

The drug Invokana from Johnson & Johnson was hailed as a revolutionary treatment for diabetes when Johnson & Johnson introduced it. But new reports warn that the drug has side effects like kidney failure, kidney stones, dehydration, heart attacks and ketoacidosis.

Known as a sodium-glucose-contransporter-2 inhibitor (SGLT-2), this type of drug blocks reabsorption of glucose into the kidneys, which allows any excess to be removed from the body through urine.

Anyone familiar with diabetes knows that controlling blood sugar is critical to preventing loss in vision, nerve damage, kidney damage and other side effects of the disease. According to the CDC, diabetes afflicts 11.3% of Americans over the age of 20 and more than 1/3 of the U.S. population has prediabetes.

When it was put on the market in 2013, financial analysts claimed sales of the drug would eclipse $400 billion in sales by 2016 because of the sheer number of diabetes patients coupled with safety questions of other drugs like Avandia. In the first quarter of 2015, sales of Invokana yielded $278 million in revenue for J&J.

Devastating side effects

After two years of being on the market though, potentially devastating side effects are coming to light.

A report from the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) in May 2015 outlines some concerns about how Invokana could be the cause of a variety of side effects like kidney failure, kidney stones, dehydration and heart attacks. Also in May, the FDA issued a warning about how Invokana and other SGLT2 inhibitors could cause ketoacidosis, a condition where the body produces a dangerously high level of blood acids called ketones.

The ISMP evaluated adverse event reports submitted to the FDA in 2014, the first full year the drug was on the market, and found 457 incidents indicating signs of renal toxicity believed to be linked to Invokana.

Although no recall has been issued, both the FDA and prescription drug attorneys are investigating Invokana to fully understand the drug’s side effects and determine if J&J knew about any of these ahead of time.

The FDA is also advising patients to closely monitor their health and immediately seek medical attention if they experience any of the following:

Troubling information about Invokana and its link to kidney failure, cardiovascular issues and ketoacidosis keeps coming to light.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness and fatigue

Individual lawsuits alleging that manufacturers and marketers of SGLT2 inhibitors didn’t properly warn patients and physicians of these side effects have been filed. Many of the side effects from Invokana and other drugs are serious enough to require hospitalization, which of course places a financial burden on patients and their families.

These cases are currently in the discovery phase, but as explained by attorney Tim O’Brien of Pensacola, Florida, more and more troubling information about Invokana and its link to kidney failure, cardiovascular issues and ketoacidosis keeps coming to light.

If you’re taking Invokana or another SGLT2 inhibitor and are experiencing any of the side effects mentioned above, you should seek medical attention immediately. You should also try and speak with an attorney as soon as possible since the statute of limitations varies by state. 

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