How the Deadly Drug Invokana Became Too Popular

Johnson & Johnson dominated the pharmaceutical industry’s news circuit two years ago with a type 2 diabetes drug, Invokana. The company labeled the drug the “newest class of medicines,” tackling blood sugar levels in an innovative way. But was the drug of the future worthy of all the buzz?

Short answer, yes. Ivokana should be discussed with type 2 diabetes patients. But in a negative manner, making sure all warnings, not just the ones on the label, are understood.

The FDA recently warned Invokana can cause too much acid in the blood, called ketoacidosis, leading to an array of serious health problems and/or hospitalization. Some of the more serious side effects coming to light are cardiovascular injuries and kidney failure. So far, six cases of heart failure and 23 cases of ketoacidosis are linked to Invokana.

Possibly even scarier for type 2 diabetes patients is that these side effects did raise concern before the product hit the market. Users are advised to consult an Invokana lawyer if they experienced serious side effects.

These potentially deadly side effects raise many questions for not only the pharmaceutical company, but also the FDA and its approval process. While all drugs typically come with a hefty list of possible side effects, the FDA uses a risk/benefit ratio as one factor in determining if a drug is safe. Citing the heart problems and high blood acidity levels linked to Invokana, some health advocates don’t see how the benefits are outweighing the risks.

The FDA did originally require additional studies for Invokana to monitor cardiovascular outcomes on patients, bone safety, malignancies, and more. However, they allowed the pharmaceutical company to begin selling the drug.

Within one year of the FDA’s approval, Invokana caused 457 health problems, 92 percent more than the other regularly monitored drugs for Type 2 Diabetes. The Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) began questioning if Invokana adequately reported their potential health risks. Attorneys also began to follow the warnings, forming solid cases for Invokana lawsuits across the nation.

While the FDA, ISMP, and attorneys alike investigate if Invokana did not properly warn potential users, there is no question how the new drug became the top-grossing drug in its class. Simply put, Johnson & Johnson spent millions of dollars promoting it.

Johnson & Johnson spent over $7 million dollars throughout the last six months of 2013 to pay doctor speaking fees and “related spending” to support Invokana, according to ProPublica. These funds are separate from the $16 million spent to advertise in medical journals. This is the advantage for top pharmaceutical companies; it is common practice for them to pay doctors to support their products. Drug Watch reports Invokana “made the top 4 of the list for most money spent.” And as far as pure marketing goes, it was money well-spent with the drug beating out all it’s competitors.

But there is no budget capable of hiding Invokana’s life-threatening risks. The FDA said “[they are] continuing to investigate this safety issue and will determine whether changes are needed in the prescribing information for this class of drugs.”

If you or a loved one suffered serious side effects after taking this Type 2 Diabetes drug, contact a national Invokana attorney for help. Most users report symptoms after two weeks on the drug.

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