Actos Discussions Part 2: Dangers of the Drug

By: Sullo and Sullo Staff Writer


Could Your Heart Failure Be Linked to Actos?
Links to higher heart disease rates have been associated with the use of Actos, and, in fact, Actos may cause as many heart problems as GlaxoSmithKline’s drug, Avandia. The American Heart Association reported that studies showed patients taking either diabetes drug were at least four times as likely to experience heart attacks, heart failure or even death. When a 2007 study on Avandia showed a 43 percent higher chance of heart attack, Actos quickly became the market leader. A subsequent study on both drugs showed that 602 Avandia users and 599 Actos users in the study suffered either a heart attack, heart failure or both, with 217 deaths in each group. The latest study regarding Actos in the journal Lancet found the risk for heart failure greatest among those patients with a prior history of heart disease and heart failure, however overall the relative risk when taking Actos was as much as 72 percent higher than those not taking the drug. Both Glaxo and Takeda dispute the results of these negative studies, citing a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which suggests Actos might actually cut the risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

Link between Actos and Heart Failure
Actos is in a class of drugs known as thiazolidinediones, whose use has long been attributed to certain liver and cardiovascular health issues. A listed side effect of actos includes the threat of congestive heart failure with the link between Actos and congestive heart failure being so undeniable that in 2007 the FDA escalated warnings regarding heart disease when taking the drug. Actos causes the body to retain excess fluid, leading to swelling and weight gain. This extra body fluid can worsen some heart problems, leading to heart failure or can actually cause heart problems.

When Actos causes swelling in the body, this swelling also occurs around the heart, rendering it unable to effectively pump blood throughout the body. As fluid builds up around the heart and lungs, it becomes more difficult for the heart to pump, causing it to become less and less efficient. This can lead to shortness of breath, trouble breathing when lying down, a feeling of excessive tiredness or an unusually rapid increase in weight. After an intense debate over the cardiovascular risks of Actos, the FDA agreed to surround the heart risk warnings on Actos with an emphatic black outline commonly known as a black box warning. This black box warning is the strongest FDA label change which can be added to any drug on the market.

Link Between Actos and Bladder Cancer
The FDA issued its safety announcement regarding the connection between using Actos for more than one year and the risk of'+actos +bladder cancer on June 15, 2011. The bladder lies in the center of the lower part of the abdomen, and its primary purpose is to store urine prior to excreting it from the body. When cells in the bladder become cancerous, a tumor can form. Actos helps diabetics use their own insulin better by hitting at least two of the three main PPAR receptors known as the Gamma and Alpha receptors. The Gamma receptor works on glucose while the Alpha receptor affects cholesterol. Actos appears to have a higher affinity with the Alpha receptor which is why it does a good job on raising good cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.

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