Actos Side Effects May Increase Risk of Vision Problems: Study

Use of the Takeda Pharmaceuticals diabetes drug Actos may multiply the risk of developing a serious eye problem known as diabetic macular edema, according to the findings of recently published research. 

In a study published June 11 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that use of a class of medications known as thiazolidinediones, which includes Actos and Avandia, may pose a two to three fold increased risk of developing macular edema, which could lead to blindness.

Macular edema is often associated with diabetics who fail to control their blood sugar. It causes the macula region of the eye to swell leading to a loss of visual acuity. The macula helps the eye to focus sharply on objects directly ahead of us.

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The study looked at data on 103,368 patients with type 2 diabete and found that users of Actos and Avandia had a 1.3% chance of macular edema after one year, compared to only 0.2% among non thazolidinedione users. The results were the same whether the subject was taking Actos or Avandia.

The research was first introduced a year ago at a meeting of American Diabetes Association in San Diego. It has now been peer-reviewed and published.

Because the drugs are considered second-line treatments for people who have problems controlling their diabetes, the researchers cannot definitively say whether the increase is due to the use of the drugs. However, the study raises further concerns about the troubled class of medications.

Avandia (rosiglitazone) was first introduced in 1998 to treat type 2 diabetes by helping control blood sugar levels. The drug was used by millions of diabetes before sales began to plummet in mid-2007, after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine identified a potential risk of heart attacks from Avandia.

Although many critics called for an Avandia recall to be issued, the FDA has allowed the medication to remain on the market under tight restrictions on use, with the medication only available from select pharmacies by mail order for individuals who are already being successfully treated with the drug.

As sales for Avandia fell, the sales for it’s primary competitor Actos (pioglitazone) increased. However, side effects of Actos have recently been linked to a potential risk of bladder cancer, resulting in calls for an Actos recall to be issued as well.

A number of individuals throughout the United States are currently pursuing an Actos cancer lawsuit against Takeda Pharmaceuticals, alleging that the manufacturer of the medication failed to properly research the drug or warn about the risk of bladder cancer.


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