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All about: pioglitazone

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Generic Name: pioglitazone (oral) (PYE o GLIT a zone)
Brand Names: Actos

What is pioglitazone?

Pioglitazone is an oral diabetes medicine that help control blood sugar levels.

Pioglitazone is for people with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. Pioglitazone is sometimes used in combination with insulin or other medications, but it is not for treating type 1 diabetes.

Pioglitazone may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about pioglitazone?

Do not use pioglitazone if you have type 1 diabetes, or if you are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment with insulin).

Before taking pioglitazone, tell your doctor if you have congestive heart failure or heart disease, a history of heart attack or stroke, or liver disease.

Know the signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and how to recognize them, including hunger, headache, confusion, irritability, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, tremors, sweating, fast heartbeat, seizure (convulsions), fainting, or coma (severe hypoglycemia can be fatal). Always keep a source of sugar available in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. Some women using pioglitazone have started having menstrual periods, even after not having a period for a long time due to a medical condition. You may be able to get pregnant if your periods restart. Talk with your doctor about the need for birth control. Women may also be more likely than men to have bone fractures in the upper arm, hand, or foot while taking pioglitazone. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about this possibility.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking pioglitazone?

Do not use pioglitazone if you have type 1 diabetes, or if you are in a state of diabetic ketoacidosis (call your doctor for treatment with insulin).

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have:

  • congestive heart failure or heart disease;

  • a history of heart attack or stroke; or

  • liver disease.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use pioglitazone, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

Some women using pioglitazone have started having menstrual periods, even after not having a period for a long time due to a medical condition. You may be able to get pregnant if your periods restart. Talk with your doctor about the need for birth control. Women may also be more likely than men to have bone fractures in the upper arm, hand, or foot while taking pioglitazone. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about this possibility. FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether pioglitazone passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not take pioglitazone without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take pioglitazone?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger or smaller amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results from this medication.

Pioglitazone is usually taken once daily. You may take the medicine with or without food.

Pioglitazone is only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes diet, exercise, and weight control. Your doctor may also recommend other medicines to treat your diabetes.

It is important to use this medicine regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested, and you may need regular eye exams. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Your medication needs may change if you become sick or injured, if you have a serious infection, or if you have any type of surgery. Your doctor may want you to stop taking pioglitazone for a short time if any of these situations affect you.

Take care not to let your blood sugar get too low, causing hypoglycemia. You may have hypoglycemia if you skip a meal, exercise too long, drink alcohol, or are under stress.

Know the signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and how to recognize them:
  • hunger, headache, confusion, irritability;

  • drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, tremors;

  • sweating, fast heartbeat;

  • seizure (convulsions); or

  • fainting, coma (severe hypoglycemia can be fatal).

Always keep a source of sugar available in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. Sugar sources include orange juice, glucose gel, candy, or milk. If you have severe hypoglycemia and cannot eat or drink, use an injection of glucagon. Your doctor can give you a prescription for a glucagon emergency injection kit and tell you how to give the injection.

Store pioglitazone at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. You may have signs of low blood sugar, such as hunger, headache, confusion, irritability, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, tremors, sweating, fast heartbeat, seizure (convulsions), fainting, or coma.

What should I avoid while taking pioglitazone?

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking pioglitazone. Alcohol lowers blood sugar and may increase the risk of hypoglycemia while you are taking this medicine.

Pioglitazone side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using pioglitazone and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • feeling short of breath, even with mild exertion;

  • swelling or rapid weight gain;

  • chest pain, general ill feeling;

  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • blurred vision;

  • increased thirst or hunger, urinating more than usual; or

  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, weakness.

Continue taking this medication and talk to your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • sneezing, runny nose, cough or other signs of a cold;

  • headache;

  • gradual weight gain;

  • muscle pain; or

  • tooth problems.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect pioglitazone?

You may be more likely to have hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) if you are taking pioglitazone with other drugs that raise blood sugar. Drugs that can raise blood sugar include:

  • isoniazid;

  • diuretics (water pills);

  • steroids (prednisone and others);

  • phenothiazines (Compazine and others);

  • thyroid medicine (Synthroid and others);

  • birth control pills and other hormones;

  • seizure medicines (Dilantin and others); and

  • diet pills or medicines to treat asthma, colds or allergies.

You may be more likely to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if you are taking pioglitazone with other drugs that lower blood sugar. Drugs that can lower blood sugar include:

  • some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs);
  • aspirin or other salicylates (including Pepto-Bismol);

  • sulfa drugs (Bactrim and others);

  • a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI);

  • beta-blockers (Tenormin and others); or
  • probenecid (Benemid).

The following drugs can interact with pioglitazone:

  • midazolam (Versed);

  • gemfibrozil (Lopid);

  • rifampin (Rifadin);

  • furosemide (Lasix); or

  • nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use pioglitazone, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other medications that can affect pioglitazone. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has information about pioglitazone written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Pioglitazone is available with a prescription under the brand name Actos. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Actos 15 mg-white, round tablets

  • Actos 30 mg-white, round tablets

  • Actos 45 mg-white, round tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.06. Revision Date: 05/11/2007 8:55:22 AM.

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