The Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) called for doctors to use caution in prescribing a pair of diabetes drugs after a French study linked their long-term use to an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The DAV asked health centers nationwide to inform diabetes patients of the alleged cancer risk linked to Actos and Competact and to keep a close watch for the potentially harmful effects of the drugs.
On June 9, French officials suspended the use of Actos (pioglitazone) and Competact (metformin with pioglitazone) after a study showed a slightly increased risk of developing bladder cancer among users.
Germany also pulled the drugs from the market.
Five days later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers that the popular diabetes drug Actos may increase the risk of bladder cancer when used for more than a year.
The FDA has advised doctors not to prescribe Actos to patients with bladder cancer and to be cautious about prdscribing it to patients who have survived bladder cancer.
In addition, the agency says that "the benefits of blood sugar control with pioglitazone should be weighed against the unknown risks for cancer recurrence."
The agency said that diabetes patients should also tell their doctor if they experience symptoms of bladder cancer (e.g. blood or red color in urine, an urgent need to urinate or pain while urinating and pain in back or lower abdomen).
Vietnam has around 4.8 million diabetes patients, or six percent of the population. The number is expected to reach 7-8 million by 2025.