Health

Diabetes drug class action launches

A class action has been launched on behalf of people who took the diabetes drug ACTOS against the manufacturers of the medication.

Suit alleges manufacturer should have disclosed increased bladder cancer risk

The suit has been filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. (Peter Jones/Reuters)

A class action has been launched on behalf of people who took the diabetes drug Actos against the manufacturers of the medication.

The class action alleges that Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, the manufacturer and distributor of Actos (pioglitazone hydrochloride) and Eli Lilly, who used to sell and distribute the drug, failed to disclose that taking it for longer than one year led to an increased risk of bladder cancer. 

The suit has been filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The lead plaintiff in the class action is a now-deceased Toronto woman who was prescribed Actos in 2002. She died in April after battling bladder cancer for over two years.

"Given the other widely available alternatives to control Type 2 diabetes, my mother never would have taken Actos had she known that it would increase her risks of developing bladder cancer," said her daughter in a release.

Actos is used to control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. It has been sold in Canada since August 2000.

The lawyers issuing the class action, Toronto-based Rochon Genova, say that French and German health authorities halted sales of Actos after studies highlighted a possible increase in the risk of bladder cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires that the drug's label indicate that the risk of bladder cancer may increase after one year of using ACTOS.

"This safety information is based on FDA's review of data from a five-year interim analysis of an ongoing, ten-year epidemiological study," reads an agency press release from August 2011.

"The five-year results showed that although there was no overall increased risk of bladder cancer with pioglitazone use, an increased risk of bladder cancer was noted among patients with the longest exposure to pioglitazone, and in those exposed to the highest cumulative dose of pioglitazone."

Actos continues to be sold in Canada. In the product monograph for Actos on Health Canada's website, there is one line mentioning the risk of bladder cancer. "Postmarketing reports of bladder cancer have been reported very rarely with the use of pioglitazone."

Takeda Canada, the Canadian arm of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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