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Canadian Class Action Alleges Serious Invokana Side Effects

scale of justice and gavelA class action lawsuit has been filed in Canada against the manufacturer of a new diabetes drug. Janssen, the maker of Invokana, is being taken to court on allegations that their drug is causing kidney damage in some users. The class action is expected to be certified in the next 6-7 months, a process that must be completed before the Invokana lawsuit can move forward under Nova Scotia law.

Ontario woman at center of Invokana lawsuit

The class action centers on Rosalba Joudry of Scarborough, Ontario. Joudry claims she took Invokana for eight months to treat her type 2 dianbetes. When she saw an advertisement for a class action involving Invokana on American television, Joudry stopped taking the drug and went to see her doctor. After undergoing testing, it was discovered that Joudry was suffering from kidney failure.

Joudry brought her complaint “on behalf of all persons in Canada who have purchased or ingested Invokana,” as well as family members of Invokana users. The pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has also been listed as a defendant on this complaint, as the parent company of Janssen. The plaintiff alleges both companies breached their duty of care by failing to withdraw Invokana from the market when the potential dangers of the drug became known.

History of Invokana

Invokana was approved by the FDA in 2013 and by Health Canada one year later. The drug belongs to a category of diabetes medications known as SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs work to regulate blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes by causing the kidneys to eliminate blood sugar through the urine. The medications may be prescribed alone or in combination with other drugs to help patients manage their type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, reports of serious side effects associated with drug began to arise soon after its introduction. Some patients began to experience a dangerous condition known as ketoacidosis. This condition is more common in patients with type 1 diabetes, and had not been seen frequently in type 2 diabetes patients until Invokana and similar drugs began to be used.

Invokana and ketoacidosis

Ketoacidosis is a condition in which ketones begin to build up in the blood. Ketones are chemicals that are usually produced by the body when it begins to break down fat for energy instead of glucose (the body’s normal source of energy). When ketones reach high levels, they make the blood more acidic, which is a very serious and even life-threatening complication that generally requires hospitalization to treat.

In May 2015, the FDA issued a safety communication, warning the medical community and the general public about the risk of ketoacidosis related to the use of SGLT2 inhibitors.

Other diabetes drugs in this category that were included in the FDA warning:

  • Farxiga
  • Invokamet
  • Xigduo XR
  • Jardiance
  • Glyxambi

The FDA warned patients using these drugs to pay close attention to symptoms of ketoacidosis and notify their physicians immediately if any of the symptoms arise.

Invokana is also under review by Health Canada at this time. A spokesperson for Health Canada told CBC News that a review could lead to changes to the drug’s label or withdrawal of the drug altogether. The FDA is also continuing to keep a close eye on serious side effects related to Invokana and has encouraged patients to report any adverse events to their MedWatch program.


  1. CBC News, Invokana Diabetes Drug Faces Canadian Class Action Lawsuit, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/invokana-diabetes-drug-faces-canadian-class-action-lawsuit-1.3231463

  2. FDA, FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Warns that SGLT2 Inhibitors for Diabetes may Result in a Serious Condition of Too Much Acid in the Blood, http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm446845.htm

  3. Forbes, New Diabetes Drug Invokana has Major Treatment – and Market Potential, http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/04/01/invokana-a-potential-blockbuster-diabetes-drug-approved-by-the-fda/

  4. American Diabetes Association, DKA (Ketoacidosis) and Ketones, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/