diabetes drugs

  1. New risks linked to diabetes drug Actos

    Diabetes drug in new health scares

    There's a lot I can tell you about the diabetes drug Actos, and none of it's good.

    But let's start with the one serious risk that just won't go away, and that's the constant links between this med and bladder cancer -- a link found yet again as data on 115,727 patients shows that Actos raises the risk of the disease by 83 percent.

    Scary? Definitely. But for people who take this drug over the long term, those risks are even higher. They double with just two years of use, and if your cumulative dose ever tops 28,000 mg, that risk shoots up to more than 2.5 times.

    That might sound like a lot for a drug that comes in doses of between 15 mg and 45 mg, but it doesn't take long to hit that tragic number.

    In fact, 28,000 mg is less than 21 months of the highest daily dose, and a little more than five years on the lowest. Since most people start with the low dose and work their way up, the "real world" time it takes to reach 28,000 mg is probably somewhere in the middle.

    Of course, the company will tell you the overall risk is small. But it's not the only serious problem linked to the med.

    Actos was supposed to be the go-to drug for diabetics when Avandia was pulled from the market over its heart risks, but one study has shown that Actos may have a similar heart risk of its own.

    And that's not all it has in common with Avandia.

    Both meds are part of a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones, and a new study finds that people who take any of these meds face a higher risk of a serious eye disease called diabetic macular edema.

    That's a condition where fluid leaks into part of the eye and causes it to swell, leading to blurred vision. Roughly 20 percent of diabetics experience it, but the new study finds that those who take thiazolidinediones such as Actos and Avandia have between double and triple the risk of everyone else.

    Clearly, diabetes drugs can be as dangerous as the disease itself -- but despite what you've heard, you don't have to commit to a lifetime of dangerous meds or choose the risks of one drug over the risks of another.

    Commit to lifestyle changes instead. By working with a holistic doctor, you can reduce your need for these and other meds and eventually eliminate them.

  2. Actos risks highlighted in lawsuit over diabetes drug

    When the diabetes drug Avandia was pulled from the market due to its heart risk, docs rushed to switch their patients over to the supposedly safer rival drug Actos.

    I say "supposedly" because I didn't buy it myself. There are just too many studies out there that show Actos to be every bit as bad as Avandia, if not worse.

    Now, a new lawsuit shows what I feared -- that docs who switched their patients from one to the other may have been sending them out of the frying pan and into the fryer.

    Dr. Helen Ge, a former safety consultant and medical reviewer for Takeda Pharmaceuticals -- maker of Actos -- alleges that the company routinely downgraded her assessments of congestive heart failure linked to the drug from "serious" to "non-serious."

    As a result, she says hundreds of cases of congestive heart failure were incorrectly reported.

    The semantics game didn't end there. Dr. Ge says her supervisors ordered her to change cases she had determined were related to the drug to "unrelated."

    So we go from serious and related events… to non-serious and unrelated ones. And yes, that makes a huge difference in how the government treats that information.

    That's assuming they even get the information at all. In addition to all that other monkey business, Dr. Ge says a company database lists 100 cases of bladder cancer linked to Actos -- but only 72 were reported to the FDS.

    The company denies all this, of course. And Ge's lawsuit, if it succeeds, has the potential to make her very wealthy.

    But this is more than just the case of a disgruntled employee, because the research shows that Actos isn't nearly as safe as you've been led to believe.

    Back in 2010, a major study in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that roughly the same number of Avandia and Actos patients died of heart attack, heart failure, and death -- four percent in all.

    In addition, several studies have found a link between Actos and bladder cancer -- especially in patients who take the highest doses for the longest periods.

    Ultimately, a jury will decide if the company has been lying or telling the truth. But the jury was out a long time ago on a much bigger issue: Diabetes drugs are not safe -- and if you're on them, work with your own doctor to find your way off.

  3. Wrong approach to obesity

    At least we're not getting fatter. The newest obesity numbers are in and, well, this is what passes for victory these days: Americans have had roughly the same rate of obesity for much of the past decade, with a little more than a third of us in need of plus-size clothing.

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