Type 2 Diabetics Should Avoid Taking Actos. Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of victims injured by defective drugs, is informing the public about a new report that recommends against using the Type 2 diabetes medication Actos unless all other options fail.
According to Consumer Reports, metformin and other older medications should be considered first because they are effective, safer and less expensive. Actos, which recently went generic, is associated with serious side effects such as bladder cancer.
On August 17th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first generic version of this drug. Aside from the cost, there is essentially no difference between a generic drug and its brand-name equivalent; they have the same benefits, side effects and complications.
As such, this generic drug is also associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer and congestive heart failure. Generic drugs are generally less expensive simply because the patent has expired.
Given this fact, it may come as a surprise to learn that the recently approved generic version of Actos may be just as costly as the brand name when it is initially launched.
According to Consumer Reports, generic Actos will probably cost nearly as much as the brand name-approximately $377 per prescription-because only three generic drug makers have received approval for the next six months. Prices are expected to decline as more manufacturers gain approval.
Even when the price of generic drug does drop
Even when the price of this generic drug does drop, Consumer Reports says that taking the drug should be a last resort option. “…we say skip Actos as both a generic and brand-name medication, unless other options have not worked. Pioglitazone can cause serious side effects, such as an increased risk of heart failure, bone fractures, and bladder cancer,” they stated.
Instead, Consumer Reports medical advisers recommend taking metformin (sold as Glucophage) as a first-line therapy for treating Type 2 diabetes. Even if metformin alone is insufficient due to side effects or the need for more medication, two generic sulfonylurea medications called glimepiride and glipizide are advised.
These drugs can be taken alone, or in combination with metformin. Consumer Reports medical experts say that this should only be considered when all these options fail, saying that it is “definitely a third-drug option.”
Actos first gained US approval in 1999. It is part of a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones (TZD) and attempts to treat Type 2 diabetes by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, the substance that helps break down sugar for energy. In recent years, Actos has been repeatedly linked to bladder cancer.
Last June, the FDA warned that the risk of bladder cancer may be significant after taking the drug for one year and announced that the label would be updated to address these risks. At around the same time, the drug was suspended in France and Germany because of its association with bladder cancer.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI)
Most recently, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) published a study comparing Actos and other TZD drug called Avandia to sulfonylureas. Overall, the study found that long-term use of Actos and Avandia was associated with a two to three-fold increased risk of bladder cancer compared to sulfonylureas.
In July, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that Actos was linked to a 22 percent increased risk of bladder cancer; data was based on 10 different studies and involved over 2.6 million patients.
According to the FDA, taking Actos may also cause or worsen congestive heart failure in some patients.
The association between Actos and bladder cancer has led to a substantial amount of litigation. Many lawsuits alleging that Actos caused bladder cancer have been filed into the multidistrict litigation entitled In Re: Actos Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2299). Proceedings are centralized before the Honorable Rebecca Doherty in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana. Jerrold S. Parker, founding partner of Parker Waichman LLP, has been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
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