In December of 2016, the FDA reaffirmed its warning that Actos (a brand name for pioglitazone) is linked to bladder cancer, particularly for people taking large doses or taking the drug for a year or longer. Actos is commonly prescribed for periods of a year or more to patients suffering from Type II diabetes. Manufacturers of Actos had hoped that the FDA would retract the link to bladder cancer based on industry-funded research.
The precise mechanism by which Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer is still not known. As is often the case with defective drugs, determining precisely why they cause particular side effects is difficult. Still, the increased risk has been identified in multiple studies going back a decade.
Though bladder cancer is the most serious risk of Actos, the drug poses other significant side effects. Of these, the increased risk of bone fractures is among the most important. Actos has been linked to significantly higher risks of bone fractures, particularly in older women. Bone fractures can require surgery and increase the risk of sepsis and other complications.
The other major health risk associated with Actos is edema, which is the retention of fluid by the body. Edema can cause cardiac problems, interfering with blood flow to the extremities. Though unlikely to be fatal in and of itself, edema can contribute to a variety of other illnesses, particularly the development or worsening of congestive heart failure, which often is fatal. Congestive heart failure was identified as a side effect of Actos even before the link to bladder cancer was uncovered.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed Actos and has developed any of the significant side effects associated with the drug, it is important that you hold the pharmaceutical company responsible for their actions. Failure to properly identify side effects kills and harms hundreds of thousands of people a year. Please, retain an experienced attorney who can help you make your case.