Actos (pioglitazone) is an oral medication used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The drug is prescribed in conjunction with dietary changes and exercise to control blood sugar levels. While it has been effective in helping those with Type 2 diabetes, it is not recommended for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis or Type 1 diabetes. This drug is also not recommended for children who are under the age of 18, as the safety and efficacy in younger patients have not been determined.
How It Works
Actos works in a few different ways to help those with Type 2 diabetes. These include:
- Decreases the body’s resistance to insulin
- Decreases the amount of glucose produced by the liver
- Increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin
- Helps the body dispose of excessive blood sugar more efficiently
- May be used in conjunction with other medications used in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes
It is important that you share all medical conditions and medications with your doctor before starting Actos. Those who suffer from severe heart failure are advised not to take this drug. If you suffer from any of the following, you should make sure your doctor is aware of it before you begin treatment with Actos:
- Macular Edema – A condition that results in swelling in the eye
- Liver problems
- Current or previous bladder cancer
- Pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- Breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed
It is also very important that you make sure your doctor is aware of all prescription and over the counter medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins that you take. Actos has been known to interact with certain medications.
Risks of Using Actos
While Actos quickly became one of the most effective and popular medications for treating Type 2 diabetes, it quickly became a controversial treatment option as well. The drug was linked to several serious side effects, which include:
- Increased swelling due to water retention
- New or worsening congestive heart failure – symptoms may include rapid weight gain, breathing difficulties, and increased fluid retention
- Kidney disease
- Bladder cancer – symptoms may include blood in the urine, increased urination, painful urination or unusual pain in the back
The risk of these side effects is severe enough that the FDA began requiring the manufacturer to include a warning on the medication that using it for one year or longer may pose an increased bladder cancer risk. Some studies have even shown that those who take this drug for extended periods have as much as an 83 percent higher rate of bladder cancer development than those who do not take the drug. As a result of these initial studies, the FDA also issued a requirement to the manufacturer that the drug undergoes a 10-year study to understand better the risks associated with bladder cancer.
Other studies concerning the effects of Actos on kidney disease have also shown that the drug may increase the risks of this disease as well. One study, which followed 35,000 diabetes patients over a four-year period showed that those taking Actos were four times as likely to develop kidney disease.
Actos has also been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures in women and a condition known as lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a potentially life-threatening situation when other issues, such as heart failure, trauma, fever, bladder cancer, pregnancy and other conditions are present.
If you or someone you love suffered from severe side effects or were injured while taking Actos, you should consider contacting an attorney to determine your rights. You may be eligible for compensation due to taking the drug.