Taking Actos Could Lead to Bladder Cancer

Woman undergoing medical screening for bladder cancerThe results of several new studies have provided evidence suggesting that the risk of developing bladder cancer as a result of taking Actos (pioglitazone) is greater than previously indicated in its preliminary clinical trials. Two years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a “Drug Safety Communication” which described how a person, based on their Actos dosage and how long they have been taking it, could have as much as a 40 percent increased risk of developing Actos-induced bladder cancer.

During earlier clinical trials for this drug, clinical investigators had found evidence that Actos could lead to bladder cancer. However, this was not information that was widely known amongst the doctors who prescribed this medication or the patients who were taking it. It stands to reason that this would not have been a drug that they would be willing to take if they had known that the risk of developing cancer could be so high. Actos was a drug designed to treat people with diabetes, but all of the latest research has provided strong evidence linking this drug to bladder cancer.

Bladder Cancer is a Common in the U.S.

Last year alone, there was an estimated 74,000 people who were diagnosed with bladder cancer, which means this is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It is a deadly disease that claims the lives of thousands every year, and the experts believe that the number of bladder cancer cases are going to grow significantly over the next decade. With this in mind, significant funds have been allocated to the development of new bladder cancer treatments and prevention plans.

The leading causes of bladder cancer include long-term smoking habits and chemical exposure which could have come from a variety of sources. This deadly disease has been shown to be more common among men than women, and more cases of bladder cancer have been diagnosed in Caucasians than African-Americans. Through a number of long-term studies, clinical investigators have discovered that bladder cancer also has a relatively high-rate of recurrence.

Previous Studies Highlight Actos’ Link to Bladder Cancer

With this latest uproar over Actos, there are three specific studies which really serve to highlight the risk that this drug possesses. A decade-long extensive study conducted by Kaiser Permanente in North Carolina tested the long-term effects that this drug would have with lab rats. The results of this bladder cancer clinical trial showed an increase in urinary bladder tumors among the rats that had been given Actos. The final results from this bladder cancer clinical trial are still being held, but the interim analysis does suggest that there is a 40 percent increased risk of bladder cancer amongst people who have been taken Actos for more than a year. This analysis persuaded the FDA to place a warning label for bladder cancer on all packages of Actos.

In Europe, leading health panels and agencies suspended the use of Actos nearly two years ago. The first to make this announcement was the French Medicines Agency, but Germany followed shortly after. That very same year, Takeda Pharmaceuticals withdrew their latest diabetes drug from all European markets. The American Diabetes Association went ahead and published their own report that described the side effects of Actos on their website.

Risk of Bladder Cancer Tied to Length of Time on Actos

The latest study on Actos and bladder cancer was published in the British Medical Journal one year ago. A team of researchers observed 115,727 patients, and they concluded that the use of Actos could increase a person’s risk of bladder cancer by as much as 83 percent! They were sure to note that this higher risk was directly tied to the length of time that you have been taking this drug.

If you watch a commercial about a new prescription drug, you probably have noticed that string of potential side effects that they list very rapidly at the end. Unfortunately, many of these drugs can cause certain side effects, but it is up to the patient and his/her doctor to decide if the benefit is worth that risk. However, this decision cannot be made effectively when important information (like it could cause bladder cancer….) is withheld.