Diabetes is a serious condition that affects the way the body metabolizes sugar. Over 29 million Americans currently suffer from the disease. Of the newly diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults, around 95% are for Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces enough insulin but cannot use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes results in high blood sugar levels which can cause long-term health problems. So what does all this mean? From the perspective of pharmaceutical companies, it means there is a massive market for Type 2 diabetes drugs. Enter the latest diabetes “wonder drug,” Invokana.
Invokana is the trade name for the medication canagliflozin. Canagliflozin is a diabetes medication sold by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson. Invokana works to lower the body’s blood sugar levels by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing blood glucose. The blood glucose is removed with the body’s urine. Unfortunately, many patients who took Invokana suffered side effects they did not anticipate because Janssen allegedly did not warn users adequately of these side effects. Injuries claimed as a result of Invokana include diabetic ketoacidosis, stroke, renal failure and other kidney injuries, urinary tract infections, and leg and foot amputations.
After its approval and release in the United States, canagliflozin was the subject of several safety announcements and warning label updates. In May 2017 there was another FDA Drug Safety Communication which confirmed an increased risk of leg and food amputations for those patients taking medications containing canagliflozin. The FDA also required medications containing canagliflozin to have updated warning labels to reflect this risk.
So what should you do if you suffered an injury while taking Invokana? Here are six helpful steps:
1. Don’t Stop Taking Invokana Until You Speak with Your Doctor.
The FDA currently recommends that patients taking Invokana to contact their doctor if they’re experiencing problems with the medication. The FDA has also recommended that patients should not stop taking Invokana until they meet with their doctor first.
I would go a step further and recommend that even if you have no injuries or symptoms, you should ask your doctor if Invokana poses an unnecessary risk to your health. There may be safer medication options for you.
2. See Your Doctor Immediately.
This is the most important thing to do if you are suffering injuries or side effects while taking Invokana. Your health issues must come first. Ask your doctor if Invokana is simply too risky to continue taking. If your doctor insists that you should continue taking Invokana, ask your doctor why (and write down the answers). Also ask your doctor if there are safer alternative medications. Gather as much information as you can. If your doctor does not give the issue the attention you think it deserves, seek a second opinion.
3. Keep a “Symptoms Journal.”
It is simple enough: when you first begin to notice symptoms which seem abnormal or unexpected or troubling, jot down these sensations on a piece of paper or a notes “app” on your smart phone. The more detail the better. This journal may well provide critically important information for your doctors but also for your attorney as he or she prepares a settlement package or a lawsuit. A person who has been injured by a harmful drug can recover money “damages” in a category known as pain and suffering. A symptoms/pain/well-being journal can provide extremely valuable information to an attorney putting together the best case for you in the event you have a viable claim against a pharmaceutical company for a potentially dangerous drug like Invokana.
4. Keep Careful Record of Medical Bills, Out-of-Pocket Expenses, and Time Missed from Work.
Keep accurate records of all bills incurred and any out-of-pocket expenses you are paying for your medical care related to injuries suffered from Invokana, including inpatient treatment, surgeries, recovery, rehabilitation, other medications, etc. In some cases, drug companies will pay the out-of-pocket expenses of a victim of a failed prescription medication. Finally, keep detailed records of all time missed from your employment, including sick days you were forced to spend, and days out of work for which you lost compensation.
5. Find an Attorney You Trust.
This step is very important and not easy. Do your research on the attorney and take your time with this important decision. If the first lawyer you call is not a good fit, you can easily move on to the next lawyer. Of course, you can always call me (919.546.8788).
6. File a Lawsuit Against the Makers of Invokana.
The primary legal argument of the plaintiffs is that Janssen did not adequately warn them or their doctors of the risks associated with taking Invokana. Had these injured people been warned about these risks, they could have chosen an alternative method of treating their Type 2 diabetes.
The Invokana federal lawsuits have been placed into a multi-district litigation, or MDL. The purpose of this consolidation is to allow for a more efficient pretrial litigation process and perhaps facilitate a potential settlement. The cases are currently in the “discovery phase,” which will take several months to complete. The pretrial work must run its course and that can take a while. The discovery process occurs when both sides share information that may be used at trial. In large cases involving corporate defendants like Janssen and J&J, the discovery process can be the most time consuming and expensive part of the lawsuit.
In the Invokana MDL, the judge intends to have three bellwether trial cases chosen by January 2018, with the first bellwether trial beginning in September 2018.
Note: I am not a doctor. As a product liability lawyer, I can’t diagnose your health issues and cannot connect any injury you may have suffered to Invokana or to any other drug. Please see your doctor immediately if you suffer any negative health issue (related to Invokana or another drug).