SGLT2 inhibitors Invokana and Farxiga, used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, have been targeted for a safety review by Canada’s public health authority. These drugs cause excess blood sugar to be excreted through the urine. Ironically, they appear to cause one of the very conditions they were supposedly designed to prevent.
The primary side effect that has been reported is ketoacidosis. This results from high glucose (blood sugar) levels. It causes blood pH levels to drop precipitously, acidifying the blood. Without emergency medical intervention, ketoacidosis can lead to kidney failure, coma and death. This is usually more of an issue for Type 1 (childhood-onset) diabetics, whose condition is due to a non-functioning pancreas that does not produce insulin. However, adverse event reports from several sources around the world indicate that Type 2 diabetics taking SGLT2 medications are suffering from ketoacidosis even when glucose levels are only slightly above normal. What is dangerous for these patients is that ketoacidosis can appear suddenly and unexpectedly – and therefore, may not be diagnosed right away.
Type 2 diabetics who are prescribed Invokana and Farxiga usually have a fully-functioning pancreas. However, their body’s cells no longer respond to insulin. Physicians use various approaches in treating this disorder. The most common and least dangerous diabetic drug ismetformin, which suppresses the production of glucose in the liver. Often, it is used by itself in conjunction with lifestyle and dietary changes.
It is also prescribed in combination with many of the newer diabetic drugs, including glitazonessuch as Actos and Avandia – both of which have implicated in the development of cancers and other harmful side effects (glitazone drugs work by attempting to make cells more receptive to insulin).
Invokana is also prescribed in formulation with metformin – but there have been serious questionsas to whether or not these potentially dangerous SGLT Inhibitors have any real positive effect at all. Medical authorities and researchers found indications that such medications were at best useless and at worst harmful months before Janssen Pharmaceuticals persuaded the FDA on Invokana’s safety in January 2013. Despite the evidence that potential risks outweighed the benefits, FDA approval was “fast tracked.”
Invokana patients should be aware of the symptoms of ketoacidosis, which include:
- breathing difficulty
- abnormal thirst
- nausea and vomiting
- mental confusion
- sudden loss of appetite
- unusual and sudden fatigue
Type 2 diabetics experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
For more information regarding Invokana litigation, visit Levin Papantonio Invokana Lawsuit web page.