J&J Believes its Diabetes Drug Invokana Is A Game Changer

Recent phase III study results suggest that Invokana reduces the risk of kidney disease.


Chronic kidney disease is a real concern for people with diabetes. Approximately 40% of patients with diabetes eventually develop kidney disease, which starts with a doubling of serum creatinine and progresses to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) and renal failure.


According to James List, the global head of cardio and metabolism at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), it has been nearly 20 years since a new drug was developed that slows the progression of chronic kidney disease.


The company is hoping to change this, however. In a phase III study of patients with diabetes taking J&J’s sodium–glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor Invokana (canagliflozin), approximately a 30% reduction in the risk of a number of different ailments was observed, including reductions in the risk of progression to the doubling of serum creatinine, ESKD and renal or cardiovascular death.


Importantly, these results were obtained with no increased risk of amputations –– an important safety profile because Invokana, unlike Eli Lilly’s Jardiance and Boehringer Ingelheim’s and AstraZeneca’s Farxiga, carries a risk for amputation.


J&J submitted an application for Invokana for reduction of renal failure to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late March. It is hoping for priority review (a 6-month turnaround), which would give it some time on the market before the competition heats up. Data for Farxiga and Jardiance are expected in the next 6–24 months.


Cynthia A. Challener, Ph.D.

Dr. Challener is an established industry editor and technical writing expert in the areas of chemistry and pharmaceuticals. She writes for various corporations and associations, as well as marketing agencies and research organizations, including That’s Nice and Nice Insight.