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Concerns About Safety of Diabetes Drug Invokana Continue to be Raised

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The diabetes drug Invokana was introduced to the U.S. market in March 2013 and quickly became the go-to type 2 diabetes treatment, although the safety of the medication became a point of contention relatively quickly.

In May 2015, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices released a report that highlighted potential concerns regarding a link between Invokana and kidney damage. The report was based upon more than 457 adverse event reports submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during Invokana’s first year on the market alone.

What is Invokana?

Invokana is a SGLT2 inhibitor that is prescribed along with diet and exercise to help improve glycemic control and lower blood sugar in adult patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of serious health problems, including:

  • Blindness
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

SGLT2 inhibitors help to lower a person’s blood sugar by causing the kidneys to excrete it from the body through the urine.

Invokana Side Effects

There are several serious and even potentially fatal side effects associated with Invokana, including:

  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack) – the irreversible death of cells within the heart caused by a restriction of blood.
  • Kidney damage and failure – the kidneys stop functioning properly or at all, and waste products, fluids, and electrolytes build up in the body, causing weakness, shortness or breath, lethargy, confusion, abnormal heart rhythm, and sudden death.
  • Ketoacidosis – a medical condition in which high levels of ketones are produced in the body, leading to diabetic coma, extended hospitalization, and in some circumstances, death.

Even though Invokana was given to more than 10,000 patients in clinical trials prior to FDA approval in 2013, it still remains unclear whether the adverse events many patients have had with the medication outweigh its clinical benefits.