Takeda highlights cardiovascular safety of Actos in new ads

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Takeda Pharmaceuticals is launching a large U.S. advertising campaign showcasing the cardiovascular safety of its diabetes drug, Actos, following a safety warning issued to Avandia, a rival medication.

The ads do not mention by name GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia (rosiglitazone), and the Osaka, Japan-based Takeda claims that Avandia is not the target of the Takeda ad.

Shay Weisbrich, general manager of diabetes marketing for Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, said, “Our reason for doing this is that this has been a very confusing summer for diabetes patients” due to a string of alarming news reports about the safety of diabetes drugs.

As a result of the reports, some patients stopped taking their medicines, putting them at risk of serious, irreversible complications such as blindness and limb amputations. “The feeling was, let’s give a message of clarity and reassurance to patients,” Weisbrich said.

Yet, many doctors have switched their patients from Avandia to Actos. Prior to the recent negative news regarding Avandia, the two drugs had virtually identical U.S. sales.

Takeda, among other diabetes drug manufacturers, has been asked by the FDA to note in its labels that its diabetes medications have not been proven to lower cardiovascular risk.

Yet, Takeda's new Actos advertisements stress that a major study showed that the drug does not raise heart attack risk or stroke risk in patients.