The medication Actos® (pioglitazone) is in the news again. Actos® is manufactured by the company Takeda. Last month, Health Canada and Takeda updated the safety information surrounding the use of Actos®. It has been shown recently, that the use of Actos® potentially increases the risk of developing bladder cancer. At this time, new warnings were issued stating that those who have had bladder cancer or a family history of bladder cancer should not be prescribed Actos®. Additionally, if you are taking Actos® and you develop any bladder symptoms (urinary urgency, difficulty urinating etc.) you should see your doctor immediately.
This month Actos® is in the news again over safety concerns. A former Takeda employee has filed a whistle-blower suit against the company. The employee claims that Takeda directed its medical directors to downplay the number of cases of bladder cancer, heart failure and other side effects when reporting to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Takeda is accused of capturing a majority of the diabetes drug market by falsely portraying Actos® as safer than it actually is. In 2010, Actos gained popularity for use in the treatment of diabetes when the use of a similar drug, Avandia® (rosiglitazone), was restricted due to safety concerns. It was thought that Actos was a safer than Avandia® and was used as a substitute. Actos® may be no safer than Avandia® and should possibly have its use restricted as well. No one can say for certain this is true at this point as there has been no conclusive findings in the lawsuit as of yet.
However, the use of Actos has been suspended elsewhere in the world. In fact, last summer both France and Germany suspended the sale of Actos® last summer. Takeda officially recalled Actos® from the French market last July. This leads to the question, if it isn’t safe enough for the French population, why is it safe enough for the North American population?
If you are currently taking Actos® and have concerns about the safety of its use, speak with your pharmacist or physician today.