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Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Drug Endorsed by Review Panel

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A panel of FDA advisers recommended the drug Invokana be approved for sale. But concerns over heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular risks linger.

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A panel of government advisers recommended on a 10-5 vote Thursday that Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) experimental diabetes drug Invokana should be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The vote is a win for J&J as it hopes to get clearance for its first prescription drug for diabetes. The company conducted a massive study of more than 10,000 people to show the benefits of the medicine. On a separate vote, the panelists were split, 8-7, on whether the company provided evidence that Invokana's risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events is acceptable under FDA guidelines.

Invokana controls blood sugar levels and is part of a new class of drugs. Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and partner Boehringer Ingelheim also hope to win approval for a similar drug. Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) and AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) recently won European approval for their drug after the FDA shot it down early last year. The FDA is expected to rule on the J&J drug by late March.

(See Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Medicine Faces Big Test.)

Twitter: @brettchase

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