New Study Reveals Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer for Certain Diabetes Drugs

A new study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), assessed the risk of bladder cancer in type 2 diabetes patients using pioglitazone, which is a thiazolidinedione (TZD) drug like Actos.

After a retrospective cohort study of 60,000 type 2 diabetes patients taking TZD drugs or sulfonylurea (SU) drugs over the course of 10 years, the study found that long-term use of TZD (at least five years), increases a type 2 diabetes patient’s risk of developing bladder cancer by 200 – 300% over patients taking other diabetes medications. In fact, 170 per 100,000 patients who have taken Actos or another TZD drug for at least five years would be expected to develop bladder cancer.

The study’s lead author, Ronac Mamtani, MD, stated that while there are many factors healthcare professionals must take into account when prescribing a drug to control a patient’s diabetes, this new data provides important information for deciding which drug to prescribe. A drug like Actos, for example, which accounts for about 15 million prescriptions each year, is a TZD and should be prescribed with caution. According to Dr. Mamtani, “[The] study shows that doctors who care for patients with diabetes should be very aware of any bladder-related symptoms patients might be having, like blood in the urine, and take steps to further evaluate those issues.”

The conclusions of this study add to the mounting evidence against the entire class of TZD drugs, including Actos, a common choice for type 2 diabetes medication, according to a University of Pennsylvania news release announcing the study.

After evidence of the serious cardiovascular side effects resulting from Avandia use surfaced, Actos became the new go-to type 2 diabetes drug. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon began investigating the link between Actos use and bladder cancer. The FDA issued a Safety Communication on September 17, 2010 that included a review concerning the five-year interim analysis of an ongoing 10-year study. The review stated that the longer patients took Actos, the higher the chances of developing bladder cancer. On June 15, 2011, the FDA released another Safety Communication, concluding that patients who have been using Actos for more than one year are at a much higher risk of bladder cancer. These facts are why many European countries have already withdrawn Actos from the market.

If you have developed bladder cancer or have suffered other injuries as the result of long-term Actos use, you may have the right to pursue an action against the drug manufacturer. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact the New Jersey Actos side effects attorneys at Blume Forte at 973-845-4421 for a no-cost consultation.