When Actos was introduced to the market in 1999, it offered a novel way to control blood sugar – sensitizing the cells in body tissue to existing insulin and reducing the amount of sugar released by the liver.
Many type 2 diabetes medicines at this time stimulated the pancreas to make more insulin. But a flood of insulin into the bloodstream could make cells absorb sugar in the blood too quickly, causing low blood sugar, a potentially deadly condition.
Actos solved this problem by doing something different. Because it sensitized cells to existing insulin, low blood sugar was no longer an issue. And this combined with reducing the liver's release of sugar eliminated extreme swings between high and low blood sugar. Another Actos advantage was its convenient once-a-day dose that could be taken with or without food.
10 Million People Use Actos, Making It a Top Seller
Actos immediately became the top-selling type 2 diabetes drug worldwide. According to Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Actos and the biggest drugmaker in Asia, 10 million patients in 90 countries use it to control their blood sugar. Actos sales of $4 billion accounted for one-quarter of the company's net sales in 2010.
In 2011, Actos sales declined slightly as Takeda faced the expiration of its Actos patent, opening the door for other companies to market generic Actos. Although the patent ran out in January 2011, Takeda negotiated a deal with generic drug manufacturers not to market generic versions of Actos until later in 2012.
Bladder Cancer Risk Hurts Actos Sales
But by the spring of 2011, news of an unexpected side effect – bladder cancer – changed everything.
In the spring of 2011, both French and American studies found an increased bladder cancer risk among long-term users of Actos-containing medicines. This discovery prompted an FDA warning in the United States, an Actos recall in France and limited Actos use elsewhere in Europe.
Are you an Actos user who has just received a bladder cancer diagnosis? Read on. And to learn still more about Actos and its side effects, request a copy of our free Actos side-effects pamphlet now!