Invokana, Type 2 Diabetes Drug, Causes Ketoacidosis

What is Invokana

Invokana is a SGLT2 inhibitor used in combination with diet and exercise to improve glycemic control and lower blood sugar in adults who have type 2 diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues such as damage to the kidneys, nerve damage and heart problems. Along with other drugs that came before it–including, Actos and Avandia (glitazone) and Januvia (sitaglipitin)–Invokana has been associated in a number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The “gli” in the word originates from the Greek word meaning “sugar”. These drugs are intended to control blood sugar or glucose levels. And these drugs do accomplish that. But the problem is their mechanism, i.e. the way they control the sugar levels. These drugs adversely affect other systems in the body.

What is Diabetes

There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a congenital problem. That means the problem runs in families. It usually skips generations. In a normal functioning body, blood glucose levels are regulated naturally through the body’s release of insulin, a hormone that’s produced in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetics don’t have a fully functioning pancreas and therefore take an insulin injection.

Type 2 diabetes has the same medical problems, but the cause of the diabetes is different. Most people who have type 2 diabetes have it because of poor diet–usually because of eating too much sugary foods or drinking too much soda–and a non-active lifestyle. The pancreas is fine, but the insulin that is needed to regulate glucose levels become so fatigued that they no longer respond. This is known as “insulin resistance”.

So, seeing a market to make money, the billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations like Johnson & Johnson developed drugs to help combat type 2 diabetes.

Actos Can Cause Bladder Cancer

Some prescription drugs, like Actos, are aimed at awakening or opening cellular receptors in the body to make the body do its work. The problem is that by targeting these cellular receptors, glitazone created a host of other problems in the body. One of the biggest adverse reactions was Actos caused cancer.

Invokana Can Cause Coma

Other prescription drugs like Invokana are built to bypass cellular receptors altogether. Instead, Invokana operates directly on glucose. The drug inhibits a particular protein (sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (“SGLT2”) which is involved in the reabsorption of blood glucose in the kidneys. By inhibiting the protein, the drug generated 120 grams of excess glucose to be passed in urine.  What has happened however is that patients have developed kidney damage and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which is a life-threatening condition. DKA, which is a strain of ketoacidosis in diabetic patients, occurs when insulin levels are too low or during periods of fasting. DKA causes the body to burn fatty acids instead of glucose which results in excess ketone bodies.  (Ketone bodies are basically molecules that come about as a result of a low carb intake.)  As a result, blood acidity levels rise.  And when that happens, coma or death results.

FDA Warned that Invokana May Lead to Ketoacidosis

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued this warning in May 2015. Early on, the FDA warned doctors that Invokana may lead to ketoacidosis which as explained above is a serious medical condition where the body produces high levels of acids (“ketones”). Symptoms associated with ketoacidosis include nausea, breathing difficulty, abdominal pain, high levels of fatigue and confusion. Health care professionals are now warned that while diabetes patients should continue taking their medications, Invokana may not be the first choice.

Canagliflozin / Invokana Intended to Lower Blood Sugar

While the risks are serious, SLGT2 inhibitors, like Invokana, are a class of prescription medications that are still FDA approved. In other words, this drug is still being prescribed. Like its predecessors such as Actos, Invokana is still aimed at lowering blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through urine. The key active ingredient in Invokana is something called “canagliflozin”. Along with Invokana, other prescription drugs which are causing serious medical problems include: Invokamet (canagliflozin and metformin), Farxiga (dapagliflozin), Xigduo XR (dapagliflozin and metformin extended-release), Jardiance (empagliflozin), Glyxambi (empagliflozin and linaglipitin).

While all of this is bad, what makes this even worse, is that there is a chance that the drug manufacturer was aware of a serious risk. The pharmaceutical behemoth that makes and markets Invokana is Johnson & Johnson. (Johnson & Johnson also makes Invokamet. And AstraZeneca pumps out Farxiga, and Lilly/Boehringer manufactures Jardiance.) The risk was myocardial infarction which means heart attacks. The initial concern was that the drug could cause blood clots which would lead to heart attacks. As we see now, the risks are real.

Free Legal Rights Consultation

If you have questions or have taken Invokana or a drug where you have suffered an injury, please call us. It’s likely you had no idea that you were taking a drug which you thought was going to help you control your illness but in fact made things much worse. Email our attorneys to have your questions answered.