A new Canadian analysis of previously completed Actos studies has linked Takeda’s blockbuster diabetes drug to an increased risk of bladder cancer yet again.
Jeffrey A. Johnson, the Canada Research Chair in Diabetes Health Outcomes at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health and the study’s senior author, told HealthDay News the analysis found Actos (pioglitazone), used to treat type 2 diabetes, is associated with a 22 percent increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
According to Dr. Johnson, it’s not known precisely how Actos elevates the bladder cancer risk, but some studies suggest the drug may cause crystals to form within the bladder, irritating it and possibly promoting the growth of cancer. Although Dr. Johnson cautions that the risk of developing bladder cancer is still relatively small among Actos users and non-Actos users alike, it’s unclear whether the drug provides a significant advantage over older, more conventional drugs that do not pose the same risks.
Previous studies linking Actos to elevated bladder cancer risks led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue warnings about the risk and prompting other countries, such as France and Germany, to ban the drug entirely.
Another recent Canadian study, led by Montreal epidemiologist Laurent Azoulay and published in the British Medical Journal in May, found that patients who took Actos two years or longer were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer than patients who had never taken the drug.
Results of the most recent Actos analysis were published July 3 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.