Diabetes Drug Pioglitazone Linked to Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer

An increased risk of bladder cancer has been uncovered following a large population-based study concerning patients who take the diabetes drug pioglitazone known to most as Actos, the Renal and Urology News reports.

Pioglitazone is a single-ingredient product sold under the brand name, Actos. It is also sold in combination with metformin, (Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR) and glimepride (Duetact). Pioglitzone is used, along with a proper diet and exercise program, to control high blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. It works by helping to restore the body’s proper response to insulin, thereby lowering the patient’s blood sugar, reports the Renal and Urology News.

Researchers accessed data from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink to collect information from 145,806 patients newly treated with anti-diabetes drugs from January 1 to July 31, 2013. The use of Actos, researchers found, was linked to an increased incidence of bladder cancer, especially when taken for a longer duration and at a higher cumulative dose, according to a report published by the British Medical Journal.

The average follow-up was 4.7 years, when 622 patents were diagnosed with bladder cancer. The risk of bladder cancer was found to increase 33 percent, 66 percent, and 78 percent in patients who took Actos for 1 year or less, 1 to 2 years, and more than 2 years, respectively. With a larger cumulative dose, the risk increased 63 percent, 58 percent, and 70 percent for cumulative doses 10,500 mg. or less, 10,500 to 28,000, and more than 28,000mg., respectively.

Actos is classified as a thiazolidinedione drug. Another drug in this class, rosiglitazone, (brand name Avandia) was also examined by the researchers as a bladder cancer risk and did not find a relationship. “The absence of an association with rosiglitazone suggests that the increased risk is drug specific and not a class effect” said Marco Tuccori MD, of Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada, the Renal and Urology News reports.

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