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If you have Type 2 diabetes then you know that your health is a delicate balance. You need to control your diabetes while managing the potentially dangerous side effects of some medications that may be necessary to control your diabetes. Last year, you may have been concerned about the FDA’s Actos safety alert and about the subsequent label change for Actos. This year, additional research has been released and that research also found an increased risk of bladder cancer among patients who take Actos.

The May 2012 Actos Bladder Cancer Study

On May 31, 2012 Canadian researchers from the Center for Clinical Epidemiology at the Lady Davis Institute at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal published the results of a 20 year study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Researchers looked at data from approximately 116,000 patients in the United Kingdom from 1988 -2009. Here are some of their results:

  • Patients who took Actos had an 83% increased chance of developing bladder cancer as compared to people who never took the drug.
  • Taking Actos for two years (or more) doubles a patient’s risk of developing bladder cancer. Researchers consider this to be a relatively short amount of time for a cancer to develop because of a prescription drug.
  • The risk may be greater for patients who have taken 28,000 milligrams or more of Actos.
  • Patients taking Avandia, a similar diabetes drug, did not exhibit an increased risk of developing bladder cancer, but Avandia has been associated with other risks.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

What the Actos Bladder Cancer Study Means for You

Whether the FDA or Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America will take further action with regard to Actos safety alerts, label warnings, or recalls is simply unknown. Last year, some European countries restricted Actos prescriptions after the potential connection between Actos and bladder cancer was found.

Regardless of the actions taken, or not taken by the FDA or Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, you, as the patient, have the right to know about the study, you have the right to review the study results with your doctor, and you have the right to make an informed decision about your medical care.

Together you, and a trusted physician, should consider the potential benefits of Actos, the potential risks of Actos and the potential benefits and risks of other Type 2 diabetes treatments to decide whether taking Actos is in your best interest.

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