The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Johnson & Johnson’s first of a new class of anti-diabetes drugs, called Invokana, to treat type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes affects about 24 million people and accounts for more than 90 percent of U.S. diabetes cases. Patients typically experience complications from high blood glucose levels, including kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness, and heart disease.
“Invokana is a new class of diabetes drug known as sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. It works through the kidneys by both blocking reabsorption of glucose and increasing the excretion of glucose in the urine,” said Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Manager of Nutritional Services at Joslin Diabetes Center.
The drug is taken orally once a day in tablet form and is another way for type 2 patients to lower blood glucose levels.
Dr. Robert Stanton, head of the Kidney and Hypertension Section at Joslin Diabetes Center, explained, “The kidney normally reabsorbs glucose. After the kidney filters the blood, the filtered solution passes along a tube where a transporter picks up the glucose and returns it to the blood. This drug inhibits glucose uptake in the kidney so patients do not reabsorb the glucose and thus urinate it out.”
It can be taken on its own or combined with other medications. It also has the potential to aid in weight loss without causing hypoglycemia.
As of right now its most common side effects are urinary and vaginal infections. The FDA is requiring Johnson & Johnson to conduct five post-marketing studies with Invokana.
People with severe kidney disease and those with type 1 diabetes are advised not to take it.
“Those with kidney disease shouldn’t try it. This drug blocks the uptake of glucose at an early part of the kidney and exposes other parts of the kidney to glucose that usually do not get exposed to glucose. This continued exposure to high glucose to a damaged kidney could potentially damage the kidney more.” said Dr. Stanton
However, it appears that if you don’t have kidney disease, Invokana is an effective type 2 diabetes treatment.