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Pioglitazone: risk of bladder cancer

The MHRA has just posted a safety update that the use of pioglitazone is associated with a small increased risk of bladder cancer. Healthcare professionals should be aware of new warnings and precautions for use in at-risk patients.

The advice for healthcare professionals include:

  • Patients with active bladder cancer or with a history of bladder cancer, and those with uninvestigated haematuria, should not receive pioglitazone
  • Prescribers should review the safety and efficacy of pioglitazone in individuals after 3 – 6 months of treatment to ensure that only patients who are deriving benefit continue to be treated. Pioglitazone should be stopped in patients who do not respond adequately to treatment (eg, reduction in glycosylated haemoglobin, HbA1c)
  • Before starting pioglitazone, the following known risk factors for development of bladder cancer should be assessed in individuals: age; current or past history of smoking; exposure to some occupational or chemotherapy agents such as cyclophosphamide; or previous irradiation of the pelvic region
  • Use in elderly patients should be considered carefully before and during treatment because the risk of bladder cancer increases with age. Elderly patients should start on the lowest possible dose and be regularly monitored because of the risks of bladder cancer and heart failure associated with pioglitazone

More information are available here

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