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Actos, Supposedly Safer Than Avandia, Has Serious Side Effects

Both Actos and Avandia belong to a class of drugs known as “thizolidinediones,” which help normalize blood sugar. A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Avandia (rosiglitizone) increased the risk of heart attacks by 43 percent. The study suggested that patients taking Actos (pioglitazone) did not experience the same risk.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required a boxed warning on both Avandia and Actos soon after, but the warning altered physicians and patients only to the risk of congestive heart failure not heart attacks, At the time, the agency was still trying to determine the heart attack risks with Avandia, since a study of 30,000 participants by manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline showed no increased risk for cardiovascular events.

Studies investigate Actos heart problems

In June 2010, two more studies investigating the frequency of Actos heart problems, specifically heart failure, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Archives of Internal Medicine confirming that Avandia was associated with fatal heart problems. They first analyzed more than 35,000 patients and found those taking Avandia were 33 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those on other treatments.

The second study analyzed data from more than 220,000 elderly patients, and found an increased risk of heart failure, stroke, and death among patients taking Avandia compared to those taking Actos. There was no difference between the two concerning risk of heart attack.

These studies and reports led many to believe that Actos was a safer option than Avandia, and many doctors switched patients from one to the other.

A study shows more heart attacks from Actos than Avandia; lawsuits are filed

According to a Canadian study published in the scientific journal Circulation in August 2010, it was reported that patients taking Actos were just as likely to suffer heart problems as those taking Avandia, an older diabetes drug. Many were surprised by this since the FDA placed restrictions on the use of Avandia in September 2010, but did not place similar restrictions on Actos, which had been considered to be a safer alternative.

In the study, it was found that 96 patients taking Avandia suffered a heart attack, compared with 121 on Actos. Another 265 on Avandia suffered heart failure, compared to 243 on Actos. Researchers noted that the difference between this study and previous studies is that it analyzed death records, which included those deaths that did not take place in hospitals.

This study and the new Canadian study on Actos cancer, which revealed that those taking Actos experienced a 22 percent higher risk of bladder cancer from Actos, show that the side effects associated with this drug may be more serious that expected. With the link between the diabetes drug Actos and cancer, more patients have come forward to file lawsuits in an effort to hold manufacturer Takeda liable for damages. Plaintiffs who have developed Actos cancer have consulted a lawyer to see if they are eligible to file Actos litigation seeking compensation for their injuries.

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