Attention Actos Users: Actos has been linked to bladder cancer and other serious side effects in some patients. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with bladder cancer and is taking Actos, you might be eligible for financial compensation. To learn more contact the San Diego personal injury law firm of Melinda J. Helbock by calling (858) 794-1456.

Actos® (pioglitazone) is a prescription medication for patients with type 2 diabetes. It is meant to be used in addition to diet and exercise to help control the body’s blood sugar levels. The medication is not used to treat patients with type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes. The bodies of these patients do not produce insulin. Nor is Actos prescribed for those with diabetic ketoacidosis.

How Does Actos Work?

This medicine works by addressing two problems that are common in type 2 diabetics that cause high blood sugar. It does the following:

  • Helps to improve the way the body uses insulin (a hormone involved in what the body does with glucose)
  • Stops the liver from making more sugar when this is not necessary

Taking care of these problems keeps blood glucose (sugar) levels from increasing by allowing the glucose to go to where the body needs it.

Actos and Bladder Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication in August 2011 to inform the public and health care professionals that it was updating the labels on pioglitazone-containing medicines. The FDA warned patients that these drugs, if used for more than a year, might increase a person’s risk of developing bladder cancer.[1]

The revised labels suggest that doctors treating diabetics should:

  • Not prescribe pioglitazone in their patients who have active bladder cancer
  • Be careful when prescribing these drugs for those with a history of bladder cancer

A study referred to last May in WebMD Health News found that using Actos for over two years doubles the risk of bladder cancer. The study was described in the British Medical Journal. An epidemiologist involved in the study said, “Patients with type 2 diabetes and their physicians need to be fully aware of the potential association between Actos and bladder cancer.”[2]

Researcher Lauren Azoulay added “certainly, this drug should not be used in patients with a history of bladder cancer and those with other bladder conditions.” Dr. Azoulay works at Lady Davis Institute of Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

If you are taking Actos, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer. These include:

  • Urine that is red or contains blood
  • Needing to urinate more often
  • Pain upon urination

Actos and Heart Failure

According to the Actos Medication Guide, the most important thing Actos patients need to know is that the medicine can cause fluid retention, leading to swelling and weight gain.[3] This can aggravate a person’s existent heart problems or cause heart failure. The heart in patients with this condition is unable to adequately pump blood around the body.

Patients with heart failure, therefore, should not take Actos. If you have symptoms of heart failure, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms include:

  • Swelling, especially of the legs or ankles
  • Shortness of breath or problems breathing, particularly when you lie down
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Unusual fatigue

The customary side effects of Actos include:

  • Symptoms resembling a cold, such as an infection of the respiratory tract or sore throat
  • Headache
  • An infection in the sinuses
  • Pain in the muscles

Other side effects that have been recorded are:

  • Liver problems (indicated by nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, a yellow tint to the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Broken bones (usually occur in females and are fractures in the bones of the hand, upper arms, or feet)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels whose symptoms may include feeling lightheaded, dizzy, shaky, and hungry)
  • Diabetic eye disease (macular edema, which means swelling in the back of the eye)
  • Release of an egg from a woman’s ovary, which can make the woman more likely to become pregnant

Have You Suffered an Actos Side Effect?

If you have taken Actos and then developed bladder cancer or suffered another ill side effect such as heart failure, you might want to contact an Actos lawyer. A lawyer can help you find out if you qualify for an Actos lawsuit to seek compensation for your disease. To speak with an attorney who handles these types of cases for people throughout the greater San Diego area, contact The Law Office of Melinda J. Helbock, A.P.C.
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*Additional Notes: Actos® (pioglitazone) is manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Click here for Patient Information.