WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a first-of-its-kind diabetes drug from Johnson & Johnson that uses a new method to lower blood sugar - flushing it out in patients' urine.
The agency cleared J&J's Invokana tablets for adults with Type 2 diabetes, which affects an estimated 26 million Americans. The once-a-day medication works by blocking the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar, which occurs at higher levels in patients with diabetes than in healthy patients. Regulators highlighted the drug as the first in a new class of medications that could help address the nation's growing diabetes epidemic.
Analysts estimate Invokana could eventually grow into a blockbuster drug, generating more than $1 billion in sales annually for New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J.
People with type 2 diabetes are unable to properly break down carbohydrates, either because their bodies do not produce enough insulin or have become resistant to the hormone, which controls blood sugar levels. These patients are at higher risk for heart attacks, kidney problems, blindness and other serious complications. Diabetics often require multiple drugs with different mechanisms of action to control their blood sugar levels.