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Health Canada: Actos and Bladder Cancer Are Linked

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Toronto, CanadaActos and bladder cancer are linked, according to Health Canada and the drug's maker, Takeda Canada Inc. The diabetes medication will now be issued with a harsher warning label when it is prescribed, The Canadian Press reported. 

According to the news outlet, the statement was made following a safety assessment made by Health Canada, two days after the US FDA issued a similar warning. The agency noted that  the labeling of the medication will be changed to reflect the increased risk of bladder cancer posed by the drug.

Although the use of Actos came into popularity following studies that showed its sister drug Avandia increased the risk of heart disease for users, the new findings present an equally troubling issue. According to The Canadian Press, the company is now conducting a 10-year study to try to determine the extent of the link and risk posed to people who take the drug.

Despite the new warning that was issued for the drug, this will likely not influence the market in a large way, as many people have been moved off of the medication over the past several years.

"I personally would not be comfortable using it as a long-term therapy because bladder cancer is…not something that's reversible. It's not a skin rash that goes away when you stop the drug," Dr. David Juurlink, head of pharmacology at the University of Toronto, told the news outlet.

"We've got other options. And when you've got other options why would you take an option that has some well-established side-effects and some side-effects that are less well established but ones that you would for sure rather avoid?"

The medication has been moved to a list where it can only be prescribed with special approval. In both Canada and the US, court cases regarding the medication are increasing, including a class-action suit by a group of Canadians who have allegedly been affected. Patients have filed lawsuits in order to address their grievances.

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