The diabetes treatment drug Actos, made by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., is now at the center of dozens of lawsuits in the United States over claims that prolonged used of Actos increases the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Actos was approved for sale on the market in July of 1999. Other variations of the drug pioglitzaone—all manufactured and sold by Takeda—include Actoplus Met, approved in 2005; Actoplus Met XR, approved in 2009; and Duetact, approved in 2006. Until news of the link to bladder cancer emerged, Actos had been widely used: in a span of just 10 months in 2010, nearly 2.3 million patients filled a prescription for a pioglitazone-containing product.
But now, some European countries have completely banned the sale and use of Actos given its link to bladder cancer. That hasn’t happened yet in the United States and doctors continue to prescribe Actos despite the serious risks that it presents. Instead of a complete suspension of the use of Actos, doctors in the United States are being advised to not prescribe the drug to individuals who have had bladder cancer in the past or who currently have it. But what about the thousands of patients who don’t have that medical history and are still long-term Actos users? Is Actos safe? Should its sale be suspended in the United States? Is it really safe to continue prescribing Actos to diabetic patients? Or do the risks outweigh any potential benefits?
Bladder cancer usually starts from the cells that line the bladder, also known as transitional cells. While it is difficult to say what exactly causes cancer to occur in a specific patient, it is generally understood that it can be triggered by chemical exposures, cigarette smoking, radiation and chemotherapy, and even unsafe drugs—such as Actos.
Diabetic patients who are currently prescribed Actos or who have taken it for long periods of time in the past deserve to understand the risks associated with their treatment—including the possibility that Actos will increase the likelihood of bladder cancer. If you or a loved one received a bladder cancer diagnosis after extended use of Actos, you may have legal recourse.