Actos, the brand name for pioglitazone, is an oral diabetes medicine used by patients with Type 2 Diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Actos is currently one of the most popular Type 2 Diabetes medications sold in the United States, although it has recently been banned in France and Germany.
Diabetic patients with Type 2 diabetes are not producing enough insulin, reducing the ability of the cells to remove sugar from the blood. As a result, their sugar levels rise too high. Pioglitazone, marketed under the brand name Actos, increases the ability of the liver, fat, and muscles cells to respond to insulin, thus lowering the glucose levels. The medication can also reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver. Actos, in conjunction with proper diet and exercise, has shown to help Type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar levels by helping an individual’s body respond properly to insulin, thus decreasing blood sugar levels. Actos is frequently used in combination with other anti-diabetic medications including metformin or glyburide.
Controlling blood sugar is extremely important for diabetics who can experience a variety of serious health issues if their blood sugar is imbalanced, including kidney damage, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, blindness, and loss of limb. Diabetes can also increase a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack.
The American Diabetes Association estimates there are close to 30 million Americans with diabetes and this number is growing. Unfortunately, there are millions of Americans who have diabetes but who are undiagnosed and not currently receiving proper medical treatment. According to reports, diabetes is the seventh leading cause or contributing factor to death.
Pioglitazone, branded as Actos, is an anti-diabetic drug grouped in a drug class called thiazolidinediones. These drugs are used to treat Type 2 Diabetes and help a person’s body produce sufficient insulin. Pioglitazone targets certain cells in the body and makes them more sensitive or responsive to insulin, allowing for the removal of glucose from the blood.
In June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a “Drug Safety Communication” which noted long-term users of Actos could see up to a 40% increased risk of developing bladder cancer. This warning was issued after several studies were able to show a stronger link between Actos use and bladder cancer than links shown in earlier trials. One of the most important studies was one sponsored by the manufacturer, Takeda. This study was conducted for 10 years, starting in 2002. Final results have not been published by the researchers, but earlier preliminary indications of the risk initiated the warning by the Food and Drug Administration.