Invokana: This New Diabetes Drug Could Be The Worst Yet

| May 5, 2014

I’ve said it before – beware of new diabetes drugs. And you should be particularly wary of the latest offering from Big Pharma to hit the UK market. Invokana (canagliflozin) is one of a novel class of drugs called sodium-glucose transport protein 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, which work by increasing the amount of glucose passed out of the body in the urine. As the Diabetes UK website blandly puts it: ‘Invokana is a relatively new drug and the effects on patients taking the drug for several years are not yet known’.

Invokana was launched in the UK on 24 February this year and doctors are currently awaiting final guidance from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) on its recommendations for use on the NHS. These will probably be much the same as draft recommendations on which NICE has already carried out a ‘public consultation’. Not that you would have noticed, of course – the consultation period was a brief three weeks and only regular visitors to the NICE website would have picked this up.

So, what makes me uneasy about Invokana? It seems that this drug is being rushed into use despite a number of safety concerns. In its consultation document, NICE lists seven shortcomings in the evidence provided by Invokana’s manufacturer (Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson and Johnson), including ‘lack of evidence for longer-term efficacy and safety’. In other words, they are not sure that this drug really works or whether it is safe for people to take. Despite this, they appear to be happy to give the go ahead for its use – and type 2 diabetes patients will be the guinea pigs who will test it.

Would you like a genital infection with that? Or kidney damage?

There are plenty of reasons to doubt Invokana’s safety. Even the data provided by its makers shows that, because this class of drugs causes glucose to be excreted in the urine, it is associated with a high risk of fungal infections. Fungal pathogens (including yeasts such as Candida) feed on sugar, so having sugar in your urine is a sure way of promoting their growth. Janssen’s own data show that a whopping 15 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men taking Invokana will suffer a painful and debilitating genital infection as a result of the drug. And you can bet those figures are conservative ones.

In addition, clinical trials data show that at least five per cent of users of Invokana are likely to suffer side effects of nasopharyngitis (cold-like symptoms), hypoglycaemia, upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhoea, joint pain, back pain or headache. That’s five per cent for each side effect, so the total number of people affected will be much higher. More seriously, this drug carries a real risk of kidney damage. Diabetes patients are already at risk of reduced kidney function as a result of their condition, so giving them a drug that increases the chances of this problem just seems crazy. No, on second thoughts, ‘criminal’ might be a better word.

In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flagged up its concerns that Invokana might also pose a serious risk of cancers, pancreatitis, bone fractures, liver damage, hypersensitivity reactions and adverse pregnancy outcomes – before deciding to approve it anyway! Giving evidence to the FDA’s drug advisory committee, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, warned that the way the drug works, by eliminating glucose in the urine, ‘can cause a cascade of adverse events’, including dehydration, which could lead to low blood pressure, dizziness and falls, and damage to the kidneys and heart.

It looks as though we shall have to wait several years before Invokana’s trail of destruction becomes incontrovertibly clear. By that time, thousands of people with type 2 diabetes could have suffered from its devastating and potentially lethal side effects. And Janssen will have made millions of pounds in profits for its shareholders. The scenario seems set to mirror that of Avandia, the diabetes drug that was in use in the UK for years before being banned in 2010 due to its high risk of cardiovascular problems.

My advice is simple. If your doctor suggests you try Invokana, ‘just say NO’.

For information on safe herbal alternatives that can equal or exceed the effectiveness of conventional diabetes drugs without the risks of dangerous side effects, see my earlier blog posts here and here. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in the skins of red grapes, is another natural product that can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, according to a recent meta-analysis of scientific studies. I’ll tell you more about this in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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Category: Diabetes Drugs

Comments (11)

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.

  1. Jerry says:

    Amputation risk on this drug is too frightening. FDA came out itself and warned about the possibility. There are other options available but even those have their risks (though I think they are just variants of the same drug). I don’t know what type of testing and trials these drugs have to go through but with something like diabetes I feel there should be an extremely high threshold.

  2. Joyce says:

    I was never in such distress as I was with Invokana, the yeast infections would not go away, the severe itch and burn, my husband and I could not be intimate without me bleeding, it was the worst drug I have ever taken, although it was great at reducing my BS, not worth the pain and stress

  3. Danesa Bonilla says:

    After months of Er visits Dr visits and unable to work with joint pain dyhadration. Yeast infections and Ut infection I came across an add with warnings so I stop taken Invokana and getting better worse drug ever.

  4. Lisa says:

    My doctor just prescribed this. Being in the medical field I researched it before taking it. Thank you everyone for your input as well as the websites listing the warnings. I flushed them down the toilet where they belong. There’s no way I’m trying this drug.

  5. tara says:

    I was prescribed Invokana for my diabetes. It works really well for me – but with terrible side effect – yeast infection, UTI, constant itching and burning, etc. I now take it with the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse because it takes those symptoms away. My endocrinologist confirmed that the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse is safe to use.

  6. Judy Brown says:

    I was started on Invokana a little under a year ago. Shortly after my L shoulder became painful that I told my family GP and after X Ray he thought it was a rotator cuff tear. It cleared up in the L shoulder but then it became the R shoulder, so painful I could not lie on it, couldn’t raise it very high and at times it felt like it was broke in my upper arm. I questioned the effectiveness is it as well as my BS’s, even with taking it with glyzeride double, continued to have BS in the 8 and 9. What was even more upsetting I follow a diet strictly. Just recently I missed my am dose and found that the. Next day my R shoulder her less so……..I decided to not take the Invokana just the glyzeride. So far the R shoulder pain is almost gone and my BS have lowered to the low 7. Not sure if anyone experienced this?

  7. Roxanne says:

    I ended up in the hospital with Kidney failure due to being on this medication for nearly a year. As I went down hill, I began to exhibit low blood pressure, difficulty emptying my bladder and severe light headedness. I fainted at work spraining my ankle and two weeks later became so delirious at work my boss had to call an ambulance. I was in the hospital for 5 days receiving fluids. I was very fortunate as my kidneys recovered very well. I saw one night while in hospital that this med could cause kidney failure. My doctors didn’t take me off of it, I did myself. My new Kidney dr. however agreed with this action as he stated he has concerns with it himself. I was lucky. I hope no one else will experience what I went thru.

  8. Gillian Pacini says:

    I just want to warn your readers about a new drug Invokana..I had horrible side effects and never felt so ill..I lasted 9 days.

    Now on Syntra 5 and having no side effects and great fasting blood sugar readings…this morning 6.5. Thank you so much for telling me about syntra 5

  9. Dennis Porter says:

    My doctor gave me a few sample bottles of Invokana. I took only two tablets and what appeared to be a yeast infection attacked the inside of my mouth. The infection was analyzed and it was not a yeast infection it was Steven Johnson disease which is very serious and can be fatal. It is a terrible disease that can quickly land you in the hospital in intensive care. My case was diagnosed early so I have avoided the hospital so far, however I am struggling with the disease. It has been six weeks and I am not showing a significant improvement. It’s a very difficult disease to cure. STAY AWAY FROM THIS DRUG!!!!

    • Patricia says:

      There is a strong link between SJS and Lupus. I’m sending you good thoughts and wishing you the best. This is a very serious diagnosis.

  10. Benjamin Muller says:


    What is your opinion on BioPancreate-2001 by Cortendo?

    Thanks for replying

    Best regards

    Benjamin Muller