The US Food and Drug Administration today approved a generic version of pioglitazone (Actos).
Piolitazone, like rosiglitazone (Avandia) is a drug that is supposed to reduce insulin resistance, the cause of type 2 diabetes.
However, both drugs can cause fluid retention and increase heart disease, especially in those predisposed to heart failure. When an analysis of numerous studies of Avandia showed an increase in heart disease among Avandia users, most physicians stopped prescribing it and switched their patients to Actos instead.
In 2007, the drug company making Avandia was required to put a “black box” warning with the drug. However, Actos may have the same heart disease risks as Avandia and also has a black box warning. In addition, it has been associated with an increase in bladder cancer.
Both drugs have also been associated with other side effects, including bone fractures and vision problems. Hence these drugs are not usually the first choice when you’re diagnosed with diabetes.
However, if other safer drugs (all drugs have some side effects) don’t do the job for you and you’re already on one of these drugs, the fact that there’s now a generic version (or will be soon) is good news, as both drugs are rather expensive. Actos costs more than $200 a month for the 15-mg pill.