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Diabetes Information

Actos and Avandia (Thiazolidinediones)

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Brand Name Generic Name
Actos (AK-tohss) pioglitazone (py-oh-GLIH-tuh-zohn)
Avandia (uh-VAN-dee-uh) rosiglitazone (rohss-ih-GLIH-tuh-zohn)

In September 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricted access to Avandia. The FDA based this decision on studies linking Avandia to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

If you are currently taking Avandia: Discuss treatment options with your doctor before stopping your diabetes medicines. Stopping your diabetes medicines without talking with your doctor can cause serious short-term health problems and could increase the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

Visit or call the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332) for more information about the FDA's restrictions on the use of Avandia.

What does this type of pill do?

This type of pill helps treat insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, your body doesn't use insulin the way it should. Thiazolidinediones help your insulin work properly. Then your blood glucose levels stay on target and your cells get the energy they need.

Who should not take this type of pill?

People with heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, should not take this type of pill.

This type of pill can cause heart failure or make it worse.

Heart failure is a condition in which your heart no longer pumps properly. Then your body keeps too much fluid in your legs, ankles, and lungs.

Call your doctor right away if you have signs of heart failure. Warning signs include

  • having swelling in your legs or ankles
  • gaining a lot of weight in a short time
  • having trouble breathing
  • having a cough
  • being very tired

You should also talk with your doctor about whether to take this type of pill if

  • you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • you have liver disease

What are the possible side effects?

Heart failure is a serious side effect. Avandia is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

This type of pill doesn't cause low blood glucose by itself. But your risk of having low blood glucose goes up if you also take

  • diabetes pills that cause low blood glucose
  • insulin

Your doctor may ask you to take a lower dose of your other diabetes medicines while you take this type of pill.

Possible side effects, in addition to the side effects related to heart failure, are

  • anemia (uh-NEE-mee-uh), a condition that can make you feel very tired
  • an increased risk of getting pregnant even if you're taking birth control pills

Women who take Actos, Avandia, or combination diabetes pills containing pioglitazone or rosiglitazone may have an increased risk of bone fractures.

If you take Actos or Avandia, your health care provider should make sure your liver is working properly. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of liver disease: nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, dark-colored urine, or loss of appetite.

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From the NDIC
NIH Publication No. 11-4222
October 2010


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