Study Says Actos, other Similar Diabetes Meds, Can Increase Chance of Bladder Cancer


Actos Bladder Cancer Side Effects LawsuitOverview: A new study suggests that long-term use of Actos and other drugs in the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class could increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. According to the data, the risk may be two to three times greater in type 2 diabetics taking TZDs such as Actos or Avandia compared to those who took a sulfonylurea after five years of use. This study is only the most recent in a growing body of research linking Actos to bladder cancer, an issue that has led to a number of lawsuits.

  • Study shows that patients using Actos or Avandia for longer than five years are two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to those taking a sulfonylurea
  • The study confirms the findings of previous research showing that Actos is associated with bladder cancer; the FDA has warned that using Actos for a year or more may present an increased risk
  • A number of lawsuits allege that Actos caused bladder cancer and accuse Takeda of failing to warn about the risk; the suits have been consolidated to an MDL and the first trial is scheduled for November 2014

Product: Actos (pioglitazone)

Manufacturer: Takeda Pharmaceutical/ Eli Lilly & Co.

Side Effects & Complications

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Heart Attacks
  • Cardiovascular Problems
  • Congestive Heart Failure

Long-Term Use of Actos Associated with Bladder Cancer

The study was published last Thursday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Using The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a UK database, data was gathered from nearly 60,000 patients with Type 2 diabetes who either took a TZD such as Actos of Avandia, or a sulfonylurea to treat their condition. Overall, the researchers found that the TZD users showed two to three-fold increased risk of bladder cancer after five years of exposure compared to patients who took sulfonylurea. The authors concluded that “Long-term TZD therapy (≥5 years) in patients with type 2 diabetes may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, which may be common to all TZDs.”

Previous Research

The results only confirm the link between Actos and bladder cancer, an association that many other studies have already shown. Last June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that using Actos for more than a year could present an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Last month, a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that Actos users may be 22 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer. In May, the British Medical Journal published a study showing that the risk of bladder cancer is increased two-fold after two years of use.

Actos Lawsuits

A number of lawsuits allege that Actos caused bladder cancer and claim that the Takeda failed to warn about these risks. The suits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) titled “In Re: Actos (Pioglitazone) Products Liability Litigation” in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Jerrold S. Parker, co-founder of Parker Waichman LLP, has been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. The first federal Actos trial is scheduled for November 3, 2014.