Today I came across some news that I wanted to share with you all.  A month or two ago I wrote about the new drug Forxiga that was approved for use in diabetics in the European Union.  Since then, we have had much interest on the blog about Forxiga and many have wondered when a drug like this will be available in the US.  Well today I found out that we might be close to that day.

An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just recently recommended that the FDA approve a new drug that works like Forxiga.  If you remember, the FDA is the group that decides whether a drug is safe and effective, and whether or not it can be sold in the US.  This new drug would be called Invokana and marketed by Johnson and Johnson.  In reading up on Invokana, I found out that it works the same way as Forxiga.

Invokana helps your body get rid of sugar (glucose) through your urine.  If it is approved, this will be the first medication that works like this in the United States.  There are a few concerns about Invokana that need to be addressed though.  First, Invokana might not work as well in patients with kidney problems.  Also, within the first 30 days of starting the medication, some patients had heart problems and strokes.  And, Invokana seemed to slightly raise bad cholesterol levels in some patients (although it did raise good cholesterol levels as well).  These are things that the FDA and Johnson and Johnson will have to address before the medication is approved.  It is anticipated that we will know around the end of March 2013 whether or not Invokana will be sold in the United States.  If it is, I will do a full write-up on the medication at that time.

If you would like to read more about Invokana, here are a few links:

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.

2 comments on “Invokana
  1. Melinda says:

    Hi, my name is dr just put me on Invokana last week. I havnt started it yet because im terrified of the side effects like stroke and heart attack. I know there are others but thise are the ones i want to know more about. She told me that they have to to say that even if one person experiences that, is that true? Also there are no warnings on the medicine. Should i be concerened? Thank you for your time, Melinda

    • Dr. K says:

      Hi Melinda,

      Thank you so much for your question. Your doctor is right in saying that the drug companies must list all side effects that have been seen with the drug in all of the clinical trials for that drug, whether they happened to only a few people, or a lot of people. With new drugs, like Invokana, we sometimes see side effects added to information packets after the drugs have been sold for awhile, if the side effect has been proven to be a big concern. This happened notably with the diabetes drug Actos.

      In the information I’ve read and talks that I’ve had with representatives from the company that makes Invokana, the most common side effects with Invokana are bladder and yeast infections and low blood pressure. I have not seen reports on any side effects involving stroke and heart attack. Since Invokana is so new, it is hard for us to fully know whether it can cause those side effects, but the studies that we have seen so far do not show cause for concern. As for now the FDA (the group that regulates whether or not drugs can be sold in the US) has determined that Invokana is safe for certain patients after discussion with their doctors.

      So in answer to your question, I cannot say that I’ve seen those side effects in particular with the drug Invokana, but it is too soon to be able to fully rule them out. There are other side effects that can be a problem with Invokana, and there are definitely patients that should not be given Invokana, including those with bad kidneys or who are on dialysis. Since I am not aware of your particular medical history, I would not be able to give you an accurate assessment. I would strongly encourage you to bring your concerns up to you doctor and discuss them with her before deciding whether or not to take Invokana. If there are concerns, she might be able to find you another medication that is better suited to you. But not taking a medication for diabetes when you really do need one should not be an option. I would give her office a call as soon as you are able.

      Thanks so much for your question, and good luck in your battle against diabetes!

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