Another report about the sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor canagliflozin (Invokana) has surfaced, this time concerning acute pancreatitis—a rare but life-threatening side effect that could result from use of the drug. A case report published by the Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy demonstrates a minor incidence of acute pancreatitis in patients using Invokana. Acute pancreatitis, which involves the sudden inflammation of the pancreas, can be caused by a variety of factors, but the researchers behind the report suspect it is due to Invokana’s diuretic (or dehydrating) effects.
Invokana and other SGLT2 inhibitors have already been called out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their possible link to diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe blood condition caused by heightened blood acid levels. The agency announced plans to further investigate the association in a May safety communication.
In addition to possibly causing ketoacidosis, SGLT2 inhibitors can also make it harder to diagnose the condition. Medical experts have warned treatment staff that patients using SGLT2 inhibitors may not exhibit some of the common warning signs of ketoacidosis, such as increased blood sugar. New diabetes drugs like Invokana may be particularly problematic when prescribed off-label to type 1 diabetes patients.
The new case report in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Pharmacy looks at a 50-year-old man who entered the emergency room complaining of malaise, abdominal pain, and diminished vision. Four days prior to admission, the man had stopped using traditional insulin injections and been started on Invokana for type 2 diabetes treatment. The man presented with very high blood glucose levels, and doctors were quickly able to diagnose him with diabetic ketoacidosis. The cause of his ketoacidosis, however, was more complex. After testing, analysts concluded that the man’s diabetic ketoacidosis had been induced by acute pancreatitis, an apparent side effect of Invokana.
According to the report, the man had developed acute pancreatitis as a result of how Invokana works. Like other SGLT2 inhibitors, Invokana lowers blood sugar by reducing the reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys. Consequently, the body produces more urine through which to dispose of the excess sugar. This increased urine exposes the pancreas to a higher toxic load, sometimes resulting in direct inflammation of the organ.
Preliminary testing for SGLT2 inhibitors revealed increased incidence of urinary tract infections, but no cases of acute pancreatitis were observed. The researchers hope to spread awareness of the risk of acute pancreatitis from Invokana use.
Speak to your doctor if you have any health concerns about your medications. If you or someone close to you was diagnosed with ketoacidosis or kidney failure after taking an SGLT2 inhibitor, contact the pharmaceutical lawyers at Lopez McHugh today for a free consultation and to determine if an Invokana lawsuit is right for you.