Manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Actos (Pioglitazone, HCI), also known as: Actoplus Met®, ActoplusMet XR®, and Duetact®, is a prescription medication used to improve blood sugar (glucose) control in adults with type 2 diabetes. It assists your body in better using the insulin it produces and prohibiting your liver from making excess sugar. Actos has been prescribed as a single source of glucose management as well as part of a combination therapy mixed with other medications. In 2008, ACTOS ranked tenth on the list of best-selling drugs sold in the United States and generated more than two billion dollars in annual sales.
Although ACTOS has been proven to be effective, it does come with a high price tag. Users of this medication should be aware of the warnings listed by the Food and Drug Administration, the organization responsible for reviewing and analyzing food and medications.
Hypoglycemia, a serious condition characterized by glucose deficiency in the blood, is a concern for those taking Actos. Medical professionals also warn users of Actos about congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to maintain adequate circulation. Once this occurs, fluid often builds up in the lungs and pulmonary edema is the result. Actos patients should be aware if they experience shortness of breath, swelling of the feet, and weight gain, which are all symptoms of the aforementioned conditions.
In 2007, the FDA issued perhaps the gravest warning regarding Actos is the potential to develop bladder and urinary tumors, prominently labeled on the drug in a "black box warning." This particular type of warning precedes having the prescription pulled from shelves, should such a measure be warranted. Diabetics that use this drug for more than one year present a higher risk of developing bladder cancer, not to mention are at increased rates of developing heart failure than those who have been using it for weeks or months.
In 2011, a study was conducted in France and Germany that ultimately resulted in having the drug recalled. From 2006 through 2009 France's national health agency conducted an examination of the rates of bladder cancer for patients taking Actos versus those that did not take the drug. Over 155,000 people were involved in the study which concluded that Actos increased the bladder cancer rates for those patients taking the drug by 22%. As Actos was not recalled in the United States, the FDA consequently issued another serious bladder cancer-specific warning.
It has been reported that those taking higher doses of Actos for more than a year have a 40% higher chance of developing bladder cancer than those managing their diabetes with other methods. It is imperative to tell your doctor right away if you have blood or a red color in your urine, have an increased need to urinate, or have pain while you urinate as these may be symptoms of bladder cancer.