Drug utilization, safety and clinical use of Actos and Avandia

Int J Risk Saf Med. 2013 Jan 1;25(1):39-51. doi: 10.3233/JRS-120581.


Background and objective: The impetus for this review was recent increased warnings of cardiovascular toxicity, fractures and bladder cancer associated with glitazone use.

Methods: A drug utilization review was performed regarding the use of Actos (pioglitazone) and Avandia (rosiglitazone) at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital (CGMH), an inner city safety net hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. Pharmacy records were reviewed hospital-wide to determine usage patterns of all anti-diabetic medications. Medline and the FDA websites were searched for articles on safety and efficacy of pioglitazone and rosiglitazone. Considerations were relative utilization profile, comparative efficacy, indications, relative cost, and safety profile of the two available medications in this drug class.

Results: On the basis of all of these factors, a hospital-wide switch of all rosiglitazone prescriptions to all pioglitazone was implemented, which was estimated to result in savings of $83,000 for the first year. No episodes of worsening of control of diabetes were anticipated, nor were episodes of decreased efficacy or adverse effects as a result of automatically switching patients from rosiglitazone to pioglitazone at the time of prescription filling.

Conclusions: The conclusions can be summarized in a number of key points. • Clinicians should follow the American Diabetes Association guidelines [1] for treatment. • The basis for diabetic control is weight loss, diet and exercise. • Initial medication management for type II Diabetes Mellitus includes metformin and insulin. • There are no circumstances in which use of glitazone medications is preferable to other medication groups, and there are no clinical circumstances in which use of glitazone medications is absolutely necessary, as opposed to other classes of diabetic medication. • There are significant contraindications, warnings and precautions to use of glitazones, which must be taken into consideration before use in every individual patient. • Glitazones in particular should not be used in the following circumstances: congestive heart failure (CHF), concurrent bladder cancer or severe osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alabama
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Substitution
  • Drug Utilization Review*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents* / economics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Pioglitazone
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Thiazolidinediones* / adverse effects
  • Thiazolidinediones* / economics
  • Thiazolidinediones* / therapeutic use


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Pioglitazone