Despite Actos Warnings, Study Says Actos Could Increase Effectiveness of Antidepressants

A new study completed by a team of researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran suggests the use of Actos could be effective in treating depression symptoms by boosting the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

Though evidence continues to pile up and Actos warnings have been called for across the globe about the potential risk of bladder cancer associated with the drug, the researchers said that patients given the drug reported fewer depression symptoms after six weeks of treatment, the Daily Mail reports.

The study, conducted by professor Shahin Akhondzadeh and colleagues, examined 40 patients with moderate to severe depression who were taking the antidepressant citalopram either with or without Actos. Published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the researchers admit that it needs to be conducted again on a larger scale, but added that it could have implications for other diabetes drugs in relation to treating depression.

"Our study showed pioglitazone is an effective and safe adjunct to citalopram in patients with moderate-to-severe [major depressive disorder]," Akhondzadeh said in the study. "In particular pioglitazone is associated with high rate of early improvement – and thus response and remission – which makes this drug a potentially useful augmentative strategy in patients with moderate-to-severe MDD."

Actos, which is designed to help control blood sugar levels, previously ranked as the most popular type 2 diabetes medication. Since the release of studies indicating the association between Actos use and bladder cancer however, manufacturer Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has taken a significant hit in sales.

The bladder cancer risk has also been the subject of a number of Actos lawsuits across the U.S. and in Canada, with plaintiffs claiming they would not have taken the drug had they been aware of the potentially life-threatening consequences.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Association have called for Actos warnings about the bladder cancer to be added to the drug's label, while France has suspended use of the medication. Actos has also been linked to macular edema, an eye disease that ranks as a leading cause of blindness among working adults.

Actos is not the first diabetes medication to receive such negative attention, as GlaxoSmithKline was forced to pull its Avandia drug from pharmacy shelves in the U.S. following studies linking it to heart disease in patients.