Canada issues Actos bladder cancer warning

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Canadian health regulators have issued a warning about the risk of bladder cancer associated with long term use of the Type 2 diabetes drug Actos.

Health Canada along with the makers of Actos, Takeda Pharmaceuticals announced the update to safety labels of Actos to indicate that long-term use the leading Type 2 diabetes drug available can result in bladder cancer.

This risk has been established in the U.S. prior to the warning issued in Canada, but according to a report from The Canadian Press the warning is not as newsworthy as many prescribing physicians there were already aware of the potential risks with the drug. In fact, in Canada Actos is used more as a last resort drug treatment for Type 2 diabetes and the province of Ontario has already restricted access to it.

Still, the official recognition of the risk of bladder cancer and some other serious side effects associated with Actos places the warning on the labels of the drug.

In the U.S., the first cases of Actos-associated bladder cancer have been reported since it became public about the possible risk. Many of those people have begun seeking legal action against Takeda for failing to warn of this side effect, believing the company was aware of the risks.

Actos has become one of the top-selling Type 2 diabetes drugs available on the market, enduring past the shortfalls of the previous leading drug, Avandia, which has essentially been pulled from the market (only select patients who’ve previously responded well to it can still get a prescription for it). However, Health Canada and other regulatory agencies are responding to the initial results from an ongoing clinical trial of Actos in which more cases of bladder cancer were reported among people taking the drug than those who didn’t.