The diabetes medications sold as Actos, Actoplus Met, Actoplus Met XR and Duetact contain the drug pioglitazone. This drug belongs to a class of medications called “thiazolidinediones,” which work by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin – the body’s natural substance that helps control blood sugar levels.
Actos (pioglitazone) is sold as a tablet taken orally to treat type 2 diabetes. This is a condition in which the body does not use insulin normally, so it cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood. It is not used for type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce insulin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that Actos (pioglitazone) may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer if it is used for more than one year.
Pioglitazone may also cause or worsen congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the other parts of the body. It may also damage the liver.
Symptoms of Adverse Reaction to Actos
Side effects from taking pioglitazone-containing diabetes medications such as Actos may appear when you first start taking the drug. You should contact your doctor if these symptoms are severe or if they persist:
- Muscle pain
- Pain in the arms or legs
- Sore throat
If you experience any of these more serious side effects after taking Actos, contact your doctor immediately:
- Changes in vision
- Vision loss
- Frequent, painful, or difficult urination
- Cloudy, discolored, or bloody urine
- Back or abdominal pain.
Heart Failure Symptoms
These symptoms of congestive heart failure warrant an immediate call for medical help, particularly after you first start taking pioglitazone or after your dose is increased:
- Shortness of breath
- Waking up short of breath during the night
- Needing to sleep with extra pillows under your head in order to breathe easier while lying down
- Significant weight gain in a short period of time
- Swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Swelling or pain in the stomach
- Frequent dry cough or wheezing
- Difficulty thinking clearly or confusion
- Fast or racing heart beat
- Increased tiredness
- Inability to walk or exercise well.
Liver Problems with Actos
The MedlinePlus website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health says you should contact your doctor if you are an Actos user and experience these symptoms of possible liver damage:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Lack of energy.
Bladder Cancer Symptoms
All diabetics face an increased risk of bladder cancer. However, multiple studies have indicated that using high dosages or lengthy courses of Actos and other pioglitazone-containing medications increases the risk. Contact your doctor if you exhibit any of these signs of bladder cancer:
- Bloody or reddish urine
- Frequent urination
- An urgent need to urinate
- Urine leakage (incontinence)
- Pain during urination
- Pain in the back or lower abdomen.
The MedlinePlus website also says that in clinical studies, more women who took pioglitazone developed fractures (broken bones), especially of the hands, upper arms or feet, than women who did not take pioglitazone. Men who took pioglitazone did not exhibit the same problem.
Pioglitazone may cause other side effects that have yet to be reported in great number. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.
Get Legal Help if You Are Experiencing Actos Side Effects
If you believe you or a family member has suffered bladder cancer, congestive heart failure, liver damage or any serious adverse reaction because they took Actos (pioglitazone) for type 2 diabetes, please contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. You may have the legal right to hold the maker and distributor of the drug accountable for any harm it has caused you.