Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals is trying to squash allegations that its top selling type 2 diabetes drug Invokana caused a man to develop a life threatening condition, ketoacidosis. The drug company nitpicked plaintiff Arthur Portnoff’s claims that ranged from failure to warn and strict liability to breach of warranty and design defects.
Portnoff filed a complaint in December in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, alleging he began taking Invokana in November 2014 and developed ketoacidosis in February 2015 and required hospitalization. Portnoff currently lives in Texas but claims he took the medication in Philadelphia when he was living in Delaware.
Ketoacidosis is a condition in which too much acid builds up in the blood. If left untreated, it can lead to diabetic coma and death. The condition is generally seen in patients with type 1 diabetes who develop high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetics taking Invokana can develop ketoacidosis without registering high blood sugar levels.
Portnoff’s design defect claims allege the medication’s risks outweigh its benefits. His lawsuit also claims that Janssen was aware of the risks Invokana posed but failed to adequately warn the public, nor did the company conduct enough studies to ensure the drug’s safety in patients. Janssen is also accused of not notifying the FDA about the risks associated with its type 2 diabetes drug.
Janssen responded last month that strict liability did not apply under Delaware or Pennsylvania law, and that Portnoff’s claims for breach of warranty were without merit. Thus, the drug company argued, Portnoff’s lawsuit should be thrown out.
Janssen is fighting uphill battles in dozens of similar lawsuits alleging use of Invokana causes injuries such as ketoacidosis.