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Invokana Gets FDA Black Box Warning for Amputation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration added a black box warning to the label of Type 2 diabetes medication Invokana (canagliflozin) describing the risk of foot and leg amputations.

“Based on new data from two large clinical trials, the FDA has concluded that the type 2 diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) causes an increased risk of leg and foot amputations,” the agency said in its Drug Safety Communication released on May 16, 2017.

The black box warning is the agency’s strongest warning meant to inform patients and doctors of serious hazards associated with medications. The FDA only adds the warning when there is sufficient evidence of a hazard.

The agency’s action came after it reviewed the final results from two clinical trials — the Canagliflozin Cardiovascular Assessment Study (CANVAS) and A Study of the Effects of Canagliflozin on Renal Endpoints in Adult Participants with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (CANVAS-A).

Data from these trials showed that leg and foot amputations occurred twice as often in patients treated with Invokana as those treated with placebo.

Toe and middle of the foot amputations were the most common, but amputations of the leg below and above the knee also occurred, according to the safety communication. Some patients had multiple amputations.

Approved in 2013, Invokana was the first in the class of medications called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. These drugs work by stopping the reabsorption of blood sugar in the kidneys and removing it through urine.

Amputation Warning Latest in Long List

The amputation warning is the first black box warning for Invokana, though the FDA has issued a long list of safety communications for the medication since it hit the market.

In May 2015, the FDA warned that Invokana and other SGLT2-inhibitors could increases the risk of a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA occurs when toxins called ketones build up in the blood and it can lead to coma and death if left untreated.

Hundreds of patients filed DKA lawsuits against the drug’s maker, Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. About 300 of these cases are pending before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in New Jersey.

In December 2015, the FDA added label warnings for urinary tract infections that could lead to blood infections (urosepsis) and kidney infections (pyelonephritis).

In 2016, the agency added kidney injury warnings to the Invokana’s label and began investigating reports of acute pancreatitis — swelling of the pancreas. It has not issued any warnings for acute pancreatitis.

The FDA urges people who take Invokana to pay attention to issues that could lead to amputation, including sores, tenderness, ulcers or infections in the feet or legs. Health care providers should discontinue Invokana if these symptoms or complications occur.

Last modified: July 21, 2017

Author

Michelle Y. Llamas is a senior content writer. She is also the host of Drugwatch Podcast where she interviews medical experts as well as patients affected by drugs and medical devices. She has written medical and legal content for several years — including an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine and an academic book review for Nova Science Publishers. With Drugwatch, she has developed relationships with legal and medical professionals as well as with several patients and support groups. Prior to writing for Drugwatch, she spent several years as a legal assistant for a personal injury law firm in Orlando. She obtained her English – Technical Communication degree from the University of Central Florida. She is a committee member with the American Medical Writers Association.

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  1. FDA. (2017, May 16). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA confirms increased risk of leg and foot amputations with the diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm557507.htm
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