In June 2011, the FDA revealed that use of the diabetes medication Actos for more than one year was linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. This risk pertains not just to Actos, but any medication that contains pioglitazone, such as Actos, Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR, and Duetact.
In early April 2014, a jury ordered Takeda and Eli Lilly pharmaceutical companies to pay a total of $9 billion in compensatory and punitive damages, because the companies concealed the cancer risk posed by the drug. While that verdict will likely be challenged in court, the size of the verdict left the courtroom in stunned silence. It was a clear message to Big Pharma that people are tired of companies putting profits ahead of patients’ welfare.
Actos has been prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It has been available for more than a decade, but it became popular in the fall of 2010 when another diabetes drug—AVANDIA—was found to cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. How popular? Well, from January 2010 through October 2010, approximately 2.3 million people filled a prescription for Actos or one of the Actos-containing medications.
Estimates suggest that up to 5,000 people may have already developed bladder cancer as a result of taking Actos. But that number could be just the tip of a medical iceberg. There is no doubt that there are many more people with bladder cancer who simply have not yet been diagnosed. Anyone who took Actos for more than one year is at risk, even if they already stopped taking the medication.
Based on this information, two European countries—France and German—banned the use of Actos. However, in the United States, the FDA still allows doctors to prescribe Actos.
So… if you used to take or are currently taking one of the Actos-containing medications, what should you do?
First, if you are currently taking one of these medications, we recommend that you see your prescribing physician immediately. Talk about your concerns and discuss the possibility of getting off the drug. Do NOT stop taking the medication without talking with your doctor; because Actos affects the way your body reacts to insulin, stopping the drug without medical advice could be dangerous to your health.
Second, even if you are not currently taking Actos or one of the other Actos-containing medications, see your doctor if you experience any of the possible symptoms of bladder cancer. Symptoms to look for include a red or pink color in the urine (which may indicate the presence of blood), an urgent need to urinate, pain while urinating, or pain in your back or lower abdomen. These can also be signs of other disorders, so there’s no reason to panic, but any one of these symptoms should be enough to send you to the doctor’s office just to be sure that it’s not bladder cancer.
Finally, if you have already been diagnosed with bladder cancer, AND if you took Actos, Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR or Duetact for a year or longer, we would like to speak with you right away. We are conducting our own investigation into this matter, and we are still taking on new clients. Please feel free to give us a call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED, or visit our website at www.lawmed.com for an immediate evaluation of your case.