I hope I didn’t give you the wrong impression.
As I told you last week, Avandia, the type 2 diabetes drug, was included in that $3 billion GlaxoSmithKline settlement. I also mentioned the FDA report that shocked the medical world. The agency found that stroke and heart failure risk were significantly higher with Avandia use, compared to Actos.
That might have left you with the impression that Actos is a safe choice. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Actos…Avandia… Flip a coin. If you’re a type 2 diabetic, you might end up losing big with either of these drugs.
From bad to so much worse
That FDA report was a huge gift for Takeda Pharmaceuticals (the maker of Actos). Takeda seized the opportunity and launched an advertising blitz.
Less risk of heart attack! Less risk of stroke! Come and get it!
Around the same time, another Actos detail received much less attention. Animal trials linked Actos to an increased bladder cancer risk. One year later, the risk was confirmed in humans.
With this news, France suspended the drug’s use. And suddenly, Actos was looking as bad as Avandia.
Nobody should have been surprised. Avandia and Actos are in the same class of drugs. So Avandia fears are Actos fears as well. USA Today reports that both drugs raise the risk of fractures, weight gain, fluid retention and heart failure.
That’s right. Heart failure!
In an FDA panel discussion last year, panelists were asked if Avandia was deadlier than Actos. Seven said yes. But 12 members said that Avandia was just as deadly as Actos.
Hmmm… Somehow, those details didn’t get much attention while the Takeda sales pitch was steering new customers out of one frying pan and into another.
But all of that is just about over.
A few weeks ago, the British Medical Journal published a devastating new study. Researchers found that long-term Actos use may increase bladder cancer risk by more than 80%! And long-term is the way these drugs are given.
Last year the FDA voted to restrict Avandia’s use. The same fate is probably in the cards for Actos. Until then, expect to see plenty of Takeda-friendly “experts” downplaying the risks.
Don’t buy it. This drug’s days are numbered. But with patients in danger, that number is much too high.
“Actos Bladder Cancer Risk Identified as Lawsuits Mount” PRWeb, 6/15/12, prweb.com
“France suspends Takeda diabetes drugs use” Reuters, 6/9/11, reuters.com
“Kick ‘Em When They’re Down: New Actos Ads” Ed Silverman, Pharmalot, 7/15/10, pharmalot.com
“Doctors say it’s already over for diabetes drug Avandia” Rita Rubin, USA Today, 7/20/10, usatoday.com
“FDA Panel Votes to Restrict Avandia” Gardiner Harris, New York Times, 7/14/10, prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com