A class action lawsuit filed in Canada alleges the type 2 diabetes drug Invokana can cause kidney damage so severe it could be fatal.
The class action lawsuit is awaiting certification under Nova Scotia law, but attorneys say they expect no issues in getting the class action certified within the next several months.
Invokana is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals. It was approved by Canadian drug regulators in May 2014, about a year after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval in the United States. It is in a new class of diabetes drugs known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. The drugs work through the kidneys, lowering blood sugar levels by excreting excess glucose in the urine.
The class action lawsuit includes the case of Rosalba Jourdy, who claims to have used Invokana for eight months. She stopped taking the drug after seeing an advertisement about lawsuits involving the drug. Later, tests showed she tested positive for kidney failure. Jourdy is suing for more than $1 billion in damages on behalf of Canadian patients who have been injured by the drug.
In May, the FDA issued a warning that SGLT2 inhibitors, including Invokana, can increase the risk for ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when high levels of acid build up in the blood.
Invokana isn’t the only type 2 diabetes drug facing law suits in both the United States and Canada. Another class of diabetes drugs known as incretin mimetics has been shown to harm the pancreas. These drugs, which include the brand names Januvia, Byetta and Victoza, have been linked to a painful inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. They have also been linked to pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.