06/13/2007 — Actos is an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes who do not use daily insulin injections.
But for patients taking Actos, or those considering taking Actos, there are some important factors to consider.
Drugs with similar composition to Actos have proven toxic to the liver, and a thorough check of liver functions is recommended before patients begin taking Actos, and periodically thereafter. The active ingredient in Actos is pioglitazone, which is also in the thiazolidinedione class of drugs. There have been reports of hepatitis and elevated liver enzymes among patients who use this drug.
Patients who experience symptoms of liver problems such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, or dark urine, should report them to their doctor immediately.
Other conditions that should be considered before taking Actos include congestive heart failure or heart disease; or a history of heart attack or stroke. Patients who already have or develop symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, or weight gain should check with their doctor immediately.
When Actos is combined with insulin injections or some other oral diabetes drugs, the chance of hypoglycemia increases. Patients should be alert to hypoglycemia symptoms including shaking, sweating, agitation, clammy skin, or blurred vision.
It also is possible that Actos may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills containing ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone. To guard against an unwanted pregnancy, patients using Actos should use some other form of contraception.
Special cautions should be considered for patients who are pregnant or considering breastfeeding. The effects of Actos during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. Patients who are, or plan to become pregnant, should consult their physician. It is not known whether Actos appears in breast milk.