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Diabetes Specialist Defends Invokana, Plaintiff Continues with Her Lawsuit Anyway

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Toronto, ONWhen a woman from Ontario, Canada, launched her blockbuster $1 billion Invokana side effects lawsuit last September, a diabetes specialist based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, weighed in, suggesting that in her view Invokana represents no threat to the kidneys of patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. “We know that even if you use it in people with reduced kidney function, it does no further harm to the kidneys,” said Dr. Debbie Knight, in comments published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC 9/17/15).

“I think it’s safe, yes. If I didn’t think it was safe, I don’t think I’d use [Invokana] in any of my patients.”

Dr. Knight should know, having spent 35 years in the treatment of diabetes. The CBC noted that Knight also works as a consultant for Janssen, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Invokana and one of the defendants in the Ontario lawsuit. The CBC report did not detail any further specifics of Knight’s relationship with the Invokana manufacturer.

However, the plaintiff in the proposed class action in Canada believes headlines that suggest “Invokana Linked with Cardiovascular Injuries and Kidney Failure,” have merit.

Rosalba Joudry should know: within several months of beginning treatment with Invokana to rein in her blood sugar levels, Joudry underwent tests that suggested the early stages of kidney failure.

Needless to say, Joudry takes no comfort in the words of Dr. Knight. Joudry, having launched her Invokana side effects lawsuit in September of last year, is seeking general damages in excess of $500 million, together with special damages also in excess of $500 million.

The Canadian lawsuit - which is mirrored by several similar lawsuits in both Canada and the United States - comes at an inopportune time for the pharmacare program of Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s eastern provinces. Nova Scotia recently included Invokana in its pharmacare formulary on the first of September last year, following similar moves by Quebec and Ontario.

Joudry, who hails from the Ontario suburb of Scarborough, claims to have had no knowledge of the potential for Invokana side effects relating to kidneys and ketoacidosis when she was prescribed the drug. According to the CBC, her first exposure to suggestions that Invokana could be harmful came from a television ad trolling for plaintiffs on a US TV station. Joudry looked into the matter further, and after her doctor took Joudry off the medication, underwent tests. Results suggested that Joudry was in the early stages of kidney failure.

US-based lawsuits are alleging similar injuries. In May of last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its warning that SGLT2 inhibitors, such as Invokana (canagliflozin), may increase a patient’s risk of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition related to high acidity in the blood.

The next month, the Canadian health regulatory authority (and a counterpart to the FDA), Health Canada, launched a safety review of SGLT2 inhibitors with regard to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Jennifer McCormack, spokeswoman for Janssen Inc., said in an e-mail to the CBC, “We continue to work with Health Canada in their class assessment of the potential risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) with SGLT2 inhibitor use.

“Invokana (canagliflozin) provides important benefits to patients with Type 2 diabetes and we remain confident in the overall safety profile of Invokana,” she said.

The lawsuit is Rosalba Joudry v. Janssen Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Janssen Ortho LLC, Johnson & Johnson, and Johnson & Johnson Inc., Case No. W-15-536111, filed September 10, 2015 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

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