Hello there, Dr. K. here, your online diabetes pharmacist. The other day I was working in my store when a man in a suit came up to the counter, looking like he was on a mission. Those of us in retail pharmacy can spot them a mile away: drug reps. These are the representatives from the drug manufacturers who come out to clinics and pharmacies to promote their company’s pharmaceuticals. Usually the products they are coming to talk about are ones that are brand new or not typically seen in my pharmacy. This provides me with a learning experience. But today, I was in for a surprise.
The rep introduced himself and I glanced down at the pamphlets in his hand. Lo and behold a name I recognized: Invokana! I’ve talked about Invokana on the blog before. He was impressed that I’d not only heard of the drug, but also that I knew about the similar drug in the EU called Forxiga. But could he possibly have any information for me that I didn’t already know?
The first thing that he talked about was how popular Invokana is already becoming. In only the few short months that it has been on the market, Invokana has been moving up the ranks and is well on its way to becoming one of the most often prescribed drugs for diabetes. Insurance companies are also recognizing this – he told me that Invokana is starting to show up on formularies for major insurance companies including Medco, Express Scripts, and Health Partners. For those of you who don’t know, an insurance formulary is a list of medications that an insurance company will cover. The formulary is usually broken down into tiers (tier 1, tier 2, tier 3, etc). The lower the tier number, the cheaper the medication will be. On the plans that I listed above, Invokana is currently tier 2, meaning it might be covered better than some other diabetes medications. This means that we will probably be seeing Invokana used much more regularly very soon.
Next, we talked a bit about the side effects of Invokana. He was able to tell me that the most common side effects that they have noticed in patients are urinary and yeast infections and low blood pressure that can cause dizziness. Why do patients on Invokana get urinary and yeast infections? Well, yeast and bacteria are an organisms that, like humans, need food or energy to survive. What do these organisms eat? You guessed it: sugar! Remember, Invokana works by making your body release more glucose (sugar) into your urine. Bacteria and yeast like to feed upon this sugar. Bacteria and yeast multiply, leading to bothersome urinary and yeast infections. To avoid this, proper hygiene is a must. Avoiding tight-fitting clothing can help. You might not be able to fully prevent infections, but you can help to lessen your chances.
Before he left, the drug representative left me with one more “gift” that I would like to share with you. The makers of Invokana have a drug savings card for patients who are eligible. This card is not available to anyone who is covered by federal or state prescription insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare) and is only good in the US and Puerto Rico. More information is available on their website: www.invokanacarepath.com. If you sign up for the Care Path, you will also receive medication reminders and type 2 diabetes information.
I just wanted to take the time to pass on this information for any of you who are starting on Invokana or are considering it.
As a disclaimer, I am your “virtual” pharmacist, here to provide you with information and answers to questions. However, I am not your local pharmacist and could, in no way, be aware of your specific medical needs. Remember to always check with your medical provider and pharmacist before stopping or starting any new medications. My posts are based on general pharmacy principles and should not considered as your “first opinion” when it comes to your health. Please consult with your doctor and pharmacist about anything regarding your health.