Taking Actos increases the risk of cancer, according to the European Medicines Agency. Still, with a new warning, the drug will remain on the market in much of Europe.
The theory for not ordering a recall or a withdrawal of Actos: Actos’ benefits outweigh the bladder cancer risk of the drug because, the thinking goes, type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and some risk needs to be taken to fight the disease.
Actos lawsuits being filed throughout the United States disagree. These lawsuits don’t contend that there are no patients in the world that Actos does help. These suits also don’t allege that Actos might not be the best drug for some patients. But type 2 diabetes is still a relative term. If you have a milder form of type 2 diabetes or could have been treated with another type of drug that does not carry the risk of bladder cancer, you might have wanted to know about that. And maybe no one was told of the bladder cancer risk from Actos because that was not the best thing for sales for what is an extremely profitable drug ($5 billion in sales last year). Put that into context: all of this publicity over the NFL lockout is about dividing up $9 billion a year with 32 owners and 1,900 people. Actos is $5 billion for one little drug most people have never heard of in their lives. There is some money at stake here.
Many doctors in the US are telling patients to stop taking Actos, which is going to cut into that $5 billion pretty quickly.