Actos – Diabetes Medication

General Summary

  • Trade name: Actos
  • Drug name: Pioglitazone
  • Drug class: Thiazolidinediones
  • Manufacturer: Takeda Pharmaceutical

What is Actos?

Actos is a once-daily oral medication taken by people with type 2 diabetes. Its main function is to increase the body’s sensitivity to its own insulin, thus allowing the hormone to work more effectively at improving blood glucose levels.

Pioglitazone makes cells more sensitive to insulin which reduces insulin resistance. This then makes it easier for glucose present in the blood to enter the cells.

Actos is administered with or without food. The doses are available in 15mg, 30mg and 45mg. The correct dosage is set by your doctor and you should not change this unless instructed to do so by your prescriber. Actos tablets have a 3-year shelf life and should be stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container where moisture cannot enter.

It is important to avoid taking extra tablets to compensate for a missed dose. You should test your blood glucose levels regularly and have your A1c tested every 2-3 months.

A Warning About Actos

The safety of this medicine has been questioned in recent years, after studies indicated a link between Actos and increased cases of bladder cancer. The results of one study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in May 2012 suggested that taking Actos for longer than a 12-month period may increase the risk of developing bladder cancer by 30%.

On the 8th of April 2014, Takeda Pharmaceuticals were fined $6 billion (just over £4 billion) for destroying thousands of documents regarding the health data of Actos. Their partner company Eli Lilly was also fined for its involvement.

Who Can Take Actos?

This medication is meant to be taken by adults with type 2 diabetes. It is particularly intended for overweight diabetic patients who are unable to control their blood glucose levels through diet and exercise alone, or where the use of metformin and/or sulphonylureas hasn’t been successful.

Actos is designed to be used with a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. It is available in the UK as a standalone treatment, a dual-oral therapy in combination with metformin, or a triple-oral therapy with metformin and a sulphonylurea. Actos can also work alongside insulin for type 2 diabetics who can’t control their blood glucose levels with just insulin or they cannot tolerate metformin.

Who Can’t Take Actos?

Actos shouldn’t be used by the following people:

  • Patients who are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in Actos or any other thiazolidinediones.
  • Patients who are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • A patient who has any diabetes-related eye problems.
  • Patients who have experienced any heart conditions like a heart attack or have a history of heart issues.
  • Patients who have liver problems.
  • Patients who have bladder cancer or have a history of bladder cancer.
  • Patients have polycystic ovary syndrome (POS).
  • Patients who are prone to fractures.
  • Patients who are elderly or are younger than 18 years old.
  • Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Actos is ineffective and potentially harmful for people with type 1 diabetes.

Actos Side Effects

There are some adverse side effects when undergoing pioglitazone therapy. This isn’t a complete list and other side effects can happen:

  • Anaemia
  • Back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Symptoms that are similar to a common cold
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Nausea
  • Urination problems – pain during urination, urinating more than usual or passing blood whilst urinating.
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sinusitis
  • Stomach pain
  • Vision problems.