Takeda Pharmaceuticals CO. LTD halted sales in June of their popular diabetes drug Actos as the company faces hundreds of lawsuits due to growing suspicion that the pill raises the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Actos is a top selling diabetes drug in Germany and France but has recently come under pressure from regulators who want more research to be performed on the drug, those pressures and consumer outrage have caused the drugs sales to slip.
While the European Medicines Agency and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued warnings of their own about the drug, it has not yet been pulled from the market, likely due to the number of diabetes sufferers who rely on the drug. Doctors have been warned not to prescribe the drug to any patients who currently have or who have had bladder cancer.
Mounting lawsuits are bringing the type 2 diabetes drugs future into question, while just a decade ago it was considered a promising once-a-day pill that could help control blood sugar with few side effects, while boosting the effects of some other diabetes drugs. The drug also helps improved the body’s sensitivity to insulin so patients can receive fewer injections.
Actos took the No. 1 diabetes pill sales spot from Avandia when that drug in 2007 was found to sharply increase the risk of heart attacks, leading the drug to be banned in the European Union.
With hundreds of lawsuits filed and thousands more expected around the world, there’s a chance that the drug which sells nearly $5 billion worth of pills per year may go the way of Avandia.