The U. S. Food and Drug Administration has issued the following safety announcement:

Based on new data from two large clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that the type 2 diabetes medicine canagliflozin (Invokana, Invokamet, Invokamet XR) causes an increased risk of leg and foot amputations. We are requiring new warnings, including our most prominent boxed warning, to be added to the canagliflozin drug labels to describe this risk.

Patients taking canagliflozin should notify your healthcare professionals right away if you develop new pain or tenderness, sores or ulcers, or infections in your legs or feet. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have questions or concerns. Do not stop taking your diabetes medicine without first talking to your healthcare professional.

Healthcare professionals should, before starting canagliflozin, consider factors that may predispose patients to the need for amputations. These factors include a history of prior amputation, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy, and diabetic foot ulcers. Monitor patients receiving canagliflozin for the signs and symptoms described above and discontinue canagliflozin if these complications occur.

Untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious problems, including blindness, nerve and kidney damage, and heart disease. Canagliflozin is a prescription medicine used with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors. Canagliflozin lowers blood sugar by causing the kidneys to remove sugar from the body through the urine.

Final results from two clinical trials – the CANVAS (Canagliflozin Cardiovascular Assessment Study) and CANVAS-R (a study of the effects of canagliflozin on renal endpoints in adult participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus) – showed that leg and foot amputations occurred about twice as often in patients treated with canagliflozin compared to patients treated with placebo, which is an inactive treatment. The CANVAS trial showed that over a year’s time, the risk of amputation for patients in the trial was equivalent to:

  • 5.9 out of every 1,000 patients treated with canagliflozin
  • 2.8 out of every 1,000 patients treated with placebo

The CANVAS-R trial showed that over a year’s time, the risk of amputation for patients in the trial was equivalent to:

  • 7.5 out of every 1,000 patients treated with canagliflozin
  • 4.2 out of every 1,000 patients treated with placebo

Amputations of the toe and middle of the foot were the most common; however, amputations involving the leg, below and above the knee, also occurred. Some patients had more than one amputation, some involving both limbs.

We urge healthcare professionals and patients to report side effects involving canagliflozin and other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program.