After over 1000 adverse event reports, several consumer watchdog groups have urged diabetics to avoid using Actos or its generic equivalent. Many have espoused that actos use may not be worth the associated health risks. A group by the name of “Consumer Reports” noted that Actos should only be used as a “last resort” diabetes drug.
Debate regarding Actos side effects and its link to Bladder Cancer and cardiac events such as heart attacks, strokes, and congestive heart failure was renewed after Mylan Pharmaceuticals received clearance to market a generic form of Actos. Metformin, a similar front-line diabetes drug, may be taken as an alternative to Actos when taken along or taken in combination with glipizide or glimepiride. Metformin is also cost effective. A three month supply may cost as little as $10.
Actos or pioglitatizone was originally marketed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and approved as a standard type 2 diabetes medication in July 1999. Actos functions by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thus making small amounts more effective. Medications such as ActoPlus and Duetact also include Actos’ main active ingredient.
After it was discovered that Avandia, a similar diabetes drug, was linked to serious adverse events such as heart attacks and strokes, several concerns were raised about Actos’ potential to cause similar problems. In September 2010, the FDA conducted a study and found that Actos not only shared a propensity for increased risk of heart attack and stroke but also elicited an increased incidence of bladder tumors. Researchers found that Actos use increased one’s likelihood of developing bladder cancer by as much as 40%.
Soon after the release of the Actos studies, national markets such as France and Germany recalled Actos altogether. In the United States, increased Actos warnings were provided which indicated that Actos use for more than a year may lead to an increase in the risk of bladder cancer. In addition, the medication was also marked with a black box warning regarding an increased risk of congestive heart failure.
There are currently hundreds of pending Actos product liability lawsuits on behalf of clients who were diagnosed with bladder cancer after using Actos. Plaintiffs allege that Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to provide adequate warnings about the long term side effects of Actos use.