Diabetes Drug Actos Linked to Bladder Cancer?

(July 22, 2011)

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new warning about the diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone) and it’s increased risk of causing bladder cancer. The FDA released this warning just five days after France and Germany decided to pull Actos from the market for the same reasons.

Actos is used to treat type-2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Actos was prescribed to over 2 million patients in 2010. Actos manufacturer Takeda Pharmaceuticals conducted a five-year analysis that showed no overall risk of increased bladder cancer among Actos users.

HOWEVER, the increased risk was prevalent in those who had used the drugs for longer than one year. In fact, the FDA said that “compared to never being exposed to pioglitazone, a duration of pioglitazone therapy longer than 12 months was associated with a 40 percent increase in risk [of developing bladder cancer].”

FDA officials say this new information will be added to the drug label and patient medication guide, and warn that Actos should not be prescribed to people with a history of bladder cancer.

Since Avandia (another type-2 diabetes medication) has been pulled entirely off the market – effective in November – Actos is really the only medication of it’s type left. Some doctors think the FDA should wait until more evidence is provided until they make such bold decisions to potentially remove Actos from the market as well.

If you are taking Actos or would like more information in regards to this blog post, feel free to contact us at 1-800-246-4878.

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