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Popular Diabetes Medication Linked to Multiple Medical Complications

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

When Invokana was released in 2013 by Johnsons & Johnson, it was hailed by its manufacturers as the pinnacle of innovation in diabetes medication. Invokana aimed to treat low blood sugar in adults with Type 2 diabetes by inhibiting renal glucose reabsorption and making the kidneys remove sugar through urine. The success of Invokana was evident when an estimated two million prescriptions were written for the drug in just 2014. However, the drug came with unforeseen serious medical complications.

In May 2015, the FDA issued its first warning about Invokana. The FDA warned that the drug could cause diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when there is a buildup of blood acids, also known as ketones, in the body. This buildup is caused by a lack of insulin which leaves the body unable to break down blood sugars as well as without a source of energy. With the body desperate for a source of energy, it begins to break down fat. As a result, the body experiences a buildup of ketones. Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis range from trouble breathing and fatigue to nausea and abdominal pain.

To make matters worse, in June 2016, the FDA issued another warning linking Invokana to kidney injuries. The FDA based their additional warning on 101 reported cases involving acute kidney failure. Most of the patients in those cases reported that the symptoms began one months after starting the drug. 96 of the 101 cases required hospitalization. 22 were admitted to the intensive care unit. 15 required dialysis.

The latest warning on Invokana was issued recently in May 2017. In this warning, the FDA reported that patients on Invokana were twice as likely to have their foot or leg amputated. Two separate studies supported this conclusion. The first study was a trial conducted over five years and found that the risk of amputation was 5.9 out of every 1,000 patients on Invokana. In comparison, patients in the placebo group had an amputation risk of 2.8 out of every 1,000 patients. The second study focused on the effects of Invokana on renal endpoints over two years. The study found that 7.5 out of every 1,000 patients on Invokana were at risk for amputation. On the other hand, only 4.2 out of every 1,000 patients in the placebo group were at risk for amputation.

While Invokana was once thought to be an advancement in diabetes medication, the recurrent FDA warning have proved that the drug clearly does more harm than good. Additionally, Altra Zeneca manufactured diabetes drug Farxiga has also been found to cause ketoacidosis. If you or loved ones have experienced any side effects as result of using Invokana or Farxiga, it is recommended you seek legal counsel to ensure you receive compensation for your suffering.

By: Giselle Cornejo

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