Another Canadian study confirms Actos-bladder cancer link
  • Mon, 07/09/2012 - 4:09pm

A recent Canadian study reveals a connection between popular type 2 diabetes drug Actos and bladder cancer. The study adds to the evidence that patients taking the drug may have a greater chance of developing bladder cancer.

The study, published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, analyzed 10 separate studies with over 2.6 million type 2 diabetes patients and found that participants had an increased likelihood of developing bladder cancer while taking Actos or other drugs belonging to the thiazolidinediones class, with the exception of rosiglitazone (Avandia).

“The evidence suggests that this drug is associated with about a 22 percent increased risk of bladder cancer,” said Jeffrey A. Johnson, co-author and Canada Research Chair in Diabetes Health Outcome at the University of Alberta School of Public Health in Canada, according to U.S. News. Individuals with type 2 diabetes already have a 40 percent risk of developing bladder cancer, the Canadian study stated.

Another study, published May 31 by the British Medical Journal, found that two years of Actos use could double the risk of bladder cancer for patients.

Researchers for the Canadian study used meta-analysis, meaning they combined multiple sets of data from other available thiazolidinediones bladder cancer studies to look for potential patterns in the data. The presence of a pattern could confirm or refute the hypothesis that taking Actos, or other thiazolidinediones, increases the risk of bladder cancer.

Pioglitazone (Actos), according to WebMD, belongs to a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones which increase insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. WebMD states that type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin produced to provide the body’s cells with the necessary sugars.

According to ABC News, France and Germany banned the use of Actos in 2011, two days before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that Actos use for more than a year could increase the risk of bladder cancer in type 2 diabetes patients. The FDA website also states that the agency continues to assess data from the ongoing ten-year epidemiological study, on which it based the 2011 warning.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, updated Actos’ label in June 2011 to include the bladder cancer risk information.

Bladder cancer is a common cancer that begins in the inner lining of the bladder, according to MedicineNet. Common symptoms of Actos bladder cancer include:

  • Bloody urine
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Feeling the need to, but being unable to urinate
  • Pain while urinating

If you are suffering from these symptoms and are taking Actos, please contact your physician.


About the Contributor

Jessica Davids
I report on FDA developments and new pharmaceutical launches, risks, and safety concerns.

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