As the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes continues to increase, the need for safe and effective medication to combat the disease is greater than ever. Those who have already been diagnosed with the disease should be able to feel secure that drug manufacturers will ensure their products do not cause dangerous side effects. Unfortunately, drug companies are not always up front with consumers about the risks associated with their medications. According to numerous studies conducted in recent years, one type 2 diabetes prescription medication, Actos, may actually be increasing patients' risk of developing bladder cancer.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body's ability to produce and use insulin. When an individual does not respond properly to insulin, glucose builds up in the blood, leading to hyperglycemia. Early symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, blurred vision, increased thirst and urination, frequent infections that heal slowly and numbness or pain in the extremities.
The most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate approximately 26 million Americans currently have diabetes. In 2010 alone, a total of 1.9 million people in the U.S. received diabetes diagnoses. By 2050, the CDC expects approximately one in three Americans will suffer from diabetes.
Does Actos Increase the Risk of Bladder Cancer?
According to most studies conducted, Actos increases the likelihood that an individual will develop bladder cancer. While it is important to note that people with type 2 diabetes are already 40 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer, many studies show the probability increases after taking Actos.
Recently, researchers evaluated data from 10 studies, which had examined 2.6 million people in total. Based on the cumulative data, the researchers found people who took Actos had a 22 percent increased chance of developing bladder cancer.
The risks may not be limited to Actos alone. The study found that a group of drugs, called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), might lead to the increased risk. Avandia, another well-known type 2 diabetes medication, is also included in this class of medications. While studies have not revealed an increased risk of bladder cancer for patients who have taken Avandia, a greater chance of heart problems has been discovered.
Recently, a study from the University of Pennsylvania examined the risks of TZDs compared to sulfonylurea medications, which are also used to treat type 2 diabetes. The results showed that patients who take TZDs are more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who are prescribed sulfonylurea drugs. The authors concluded that patients who took Actos for at least five years were "two to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer."
FDA Approves Generic Version of Actos
In June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning, stating there was an "increased risk of bladder cancer among those who had used [Actos] the longest." The same month, Actos was banned in both Germany and France.
Nevertheless, this past August, the FDA approved a generic version of Actos, despite its previous warnings about the dangerous side effects. The FDA noted the generic version of the medication will be accompanied by a label, stating the drug heightens the risk of bladder cancer when taken for over a year.
If you have suffered negative side effects from prescription medications, including the development of bladder cancer after taking Actos, the responsible parties should be held accountable. Consulting with a skilled Pittsburgh personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected and just compensation is received.