Actos and Bladder Cancer

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The diabetes medication Actos has been the focus of bladder cancer concerns in recent years. Numerous patients developed bladder cancer, as well as a variety of other health problems, after using the drug to treat symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Actos bladder cancer has affected more than ten thousand Actos patients. The link between Actos and bladder cancer has been apparent for many years, but it was not until 2012 that federally ordered studies showed a definite increased in conjunction with use of the drug.

Actos Bladder Cancer Study

According to results from the 2012 study, use of Actos for more than two years appeared to double the risk for developing bladder cancer. Researchers warn the risk of developing bladder cancer is still relatively low, but it is important for doctors and patients to understand it is a serious potential side of effect of using the drug. Patients with type 2 diabetes should be fully aware of all their risks and determine, with the assistance of their physicians, how to proceed.

The study analyzed more than 115,000 people who were treated with diabetes drugs from 1988 until 2009. Of the total group, 470 were diagnosed with bladder cancer at some point during the follow-up period of approximately five years. These results were then compared with the general population. The research showed those taking Actos had an 83% increased risk of bladder cancer. This risk increased for those taking the drug for longer periods of time or in higher doses.

What Causes Actos Bladder Cancer?

One of the most popular theories asserts bladder cancer is caused by constant exposure to toxic or carcinogenic substances in the bladder. Any chemicals that are processed through the bladder come into contact with cells bladder cells and can cause cellular mutation. Actos is taken on a daily basis, which means continuous exposure to components of the drug that could be carcinogenic. The increase in incidences of bladder cancer based on total dosage and increased time of use further advocate this theory.

In addition to general users of Actos developing bladder cancer, doctors and patients must also consider existing risk before determining if Actos is a safe option for treating type 2 diabetes. Other factors increase a person’s risk for developing bladder cancer, so coupled with usage of Actos, these patients could experience an even higher risk.

Other factors that put a person at risk for developing bladder cancer include:

  • Smoking – diabetes patients that are also smokers are much more likely to develop Actos bladder cancer when prescribed to Actos
  • History of bladder cancer – patients that have already been treated for the development of bladder cancer are at a risk of recurrent bladder cancer from Actos treatment
  • Workplace exposure – various occupations where the patient would be exposed to noxious or carcinogenic chemicals will increase the risk of developing Actos bladder cancer
  • Race and ethnicity – statistically, Caucasians are two times as likely to develop bladder cancer as African Americans. Hispanic, Asian, and Indian Americans have less of a risk.
  • Age and gender – There is a correlation with increasing age for the risk of bladder cancer. 9 out of 10 bladder cancer patients are over 55. Also, men are more likely to have bladder cancer.

Symptoms of Actos Bladder Cancer

Symptoms of Actos bladder cancer may first present themselves in less serious bladder issues. For example, infections are more likely to occur for a patient developing Actos bladder cancer. Changes in urination habits could also signify a problem. If a patient experience painful urination, more frequent urination, or urinary urgency, it is important to consult with a physician, particularly if Actos has been used.

If an Actos user, or anyone for that matter, experiences blood in the urine, also known as hematuria, he or she should contact a doctor immediately. Change in urine can also indicate a problem in the bladder. For instance, urine color that is yellow-red or dark red can indicate blood in the urine. Anyone who notices a sudden change in his or her normal urine color should schedule a consultation with a doctor as soon as possible.

It is also important to note symptoms might not be obvious to the patient, so if he or she is concerned about Actos use, a complete physical will help determine if there is a problem. Blood can be present in urine without noticeably changing its color. In addition to bladder cancer, the presence of blood in urine could also indicate bladder or kidney stones, non-cancerous lesions, or an infection, all of which could lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

Actos Lawsuits


Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals alleging the company knew of the risks involved in taking Actos, but failed to properly warn doctors and consumers. Additionally, Takeda was accused of destroying documents related to the case. After learning the company had failed to properly protect evidence, the judge in a Louisiana case penalized the company by instructing jurors they could infer Takeda intentionally hid information about health risks.

It took the jury approximately four hours to rule both Takeda and associated American drug manufacturer Eli Lilly failed to adequately warn about Actos’ bladder cancer risks and that the drug had caused the disease. The ruling also stated that the companies acted with “wanton and reckless disregard” for patient safety. As a result of the ruling, Takeda and Eli Lilly were ordered to pay a combined $9 billion in damages.

There are currently numerous lawsuits in action regarding Actos, including several that are class action suits.

If you or a loved one has been affected by Actos side effects, you need to speak to an experienced attorney. He or she can explain your various legal options in detail and help you determine whether or not to pursue financial compensation.

View Sources

  1. Azoulay, Laurent, Hui Yin, Kristen Filion, Jonathan Assayag, Agnieszka Majdan, Michael Pollak, and Samy Suissa. “The use of pioglitazone and the risk of bladder cancer in people with type 2 diabetes: nested case-control study.” British Medical Journal Group. (2012): n. page. Web. 9 Apr. 2013.
  2. “Bladder Cancer Symptoms & Signs.” Cancer Treatment Centers of America. N.p.. Web. 9 Apr 2013.
  3. Feeley, Jef. “Takeda May Face 10,000 U.S. Suits Over Actos Cancer Claim.” Bloomberg. N.p., 01 Dec 2011. Web. 9 Apr 2013.
  4. United States. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: Ongoing Safety Review of Actos (pioglitazone) and Potential Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer After Two Years Exposure. Web. 9 Apr 2013.
  5. “What are the risk factors for bladder cancer?.” American Cancer Society. N.p., 17 Jan 2013. Web. 9 Apr 2013.
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