Invokana Linked to Serious Complications for Diabetics


Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Type-2, or adult onset Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. When untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other problems. From Actos, to more conventional treatments, big pharmaceutical companies are doggedly pursuing Trype-2 Diabetes by pouring money into research and development. Obviously, with such a large medical problems in Type-2 Diabetes, Johnson & Johnson believed that it could cash in with Invokana.

Invokana is what is known as an SGLT2 inhibitor. This type of drug aims to lower a person’s blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove the sugar through the urine. With blood sugar under control, and a healthy dose of diet and exercise, the hope is that a patient suffering from Type-2 Diabetes can improve glycemic control.

Invokana, and other SGLT2 drugs such as nvokamet, Farxiga, Xigduo XR, Jardiance or Glyxambia are a very new development in the Diabetes treatment. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved SGLT2 inhibitors for the treatment of Diabetes in 2013, and since that time a large number of side effects were perpetually filed with the FDA through adverse event reports. Still, each quarter over 415,000 prescriptions are written for Invokana which many doctors and those in the medical community believed was a miracle drug in many respects.

How Invokana and SGLT2 Inhibitors Work

Essentially, the way in which Invokana is designed to work is quite simple.  The SGLT2 variety of drugs encourage the kidneys in an individual with Diabetes to release excess sugar into the urine that will therefore exit the body.  This process in turn lowers the blood glucose level for Diabetes patients which has a positive impact on the underlying Diabetic condition.

Type 2 diabetics may be resistant to a substance produced by the pancreas called insulin.  In individuals without Diabetes insulin from the pancreas allows the body to move glucose from the blood and into the cells.  In Diabetics this process is not working properly causing blood sugar levels to remain high. The cells do not have glucose to use as energy and in order to perform necessary functions the body begins to break down fat stores. The breakdown of fat stores causes a buildup of an acidic substance known as ketones causing the blood to be acidic.  While Invokana may decrease the symptoms of diabetics, when the blood is too acidic, ketoacidosis may develop. This may also result in potassium levels in the blood to become too high, which may increase the chance of heart attack.  These are the key side effects found with those taking Invokana and the basis of the lawsuits.

Dangerous Effects of Invokana
Dangerous Effects of Invokana

Invokana is responsible for many side effects. These range from rather minor irritants to serious and life-threatening conditions.  The listing of SGLT2 side effects below is not complete, but it generally outlines the problems experienced by many people across the country.

Kidney failure occurs in Invokana patients when the kidneys stop functioning.  This is a very serious condition and one of the primary reasons for lawsuits.  Under normal conditions, the kidneys work sophisticated filters in the body by removing waste products from the blood which is a very important function.  Once the waste is removed, the byproducts are then released into the urine for termination from the body. Additionally, the kidneys help to maintain glucose, fluid, and electrolyte balance as well as regulating blood pressure. When Invokana is introduced to the system, more sugar is released through the urine, the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) is also increased. Particularly in females, severe urinary tract infections may damage the kidneys and may spread into the body and leave behind substantial scaring even once resolved. The worst case scenario is, of course, full kidney failure.

Ketoacidosis is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose as a fuel for cellular functions and instead rely on fat stores. The breaking down of fat stores can result in the accumulation of an acidic byproduct known as ketones which exist naturally in the body, but can cause injury when present in high levels. The acidic conditions of the blood may also cause a buildup of potassium and increases the chance of another condition called Hyperkalemia which also targets the Kidneys.  These are rare conditions outside of the presence of SGLT2 inhibitors such as Invokana.

Heart attack or Myocardial infarction is the result of the oxygen supply to the heart muscle, suddenly being cut off or being reduced. Oxygen is normally supplied to the heart and other organs by the blood circulation but when the supply of oxygen is restricted because of a blockage, the heart muscle may die. This may result in heart attack or other adverse cardiac event. In addition, increases in the potassium level may increase the chance for heart attack.

Given the fact that Ketoacidosis is a rare condition, Patients who are taking Invokana or other SGLT2 inhibitor medications should be advised to seek medical attention if symptoms of kidney failure, heart attack, or ketoacidosis develop.  Furthermore, if your doctor has perscribed you Invokana and you are not experiencing symptoms, be sure to monitor your conditions closely.  These symptoms may include:

  • dizziness or fainting
  • confusion ro forgettfulness of details
  • extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • weakness in muscles
  • shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • increased urination and thirst
  • nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain and cramping
  • increased heart rate
  • chest pain
  • urinary pain or pain radiating in the groin

Certain medical conditions may increase the risk of serious Invokana side effects. Patients should notify their health care practitioner if they know they have:

  • High or low blood pressure
  • High potassium levels or other electrolyte imbalances
  • Heart disease
  • Decreased kidney function
  • pre-existing kidney failure
  • Decreased liver function
  • pre-existing liver failure
  • Low salt diet
  • Other medication use

Women who are or who intend to become pregnant and those who are breast feeding should talk to their doctor about the risks of Invokana before taking the medication.  Women in these conditions are at an even higher risk.

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