Medically reviewed on Dec 2, 2018
(pye oh GLI ta zone)
- Pioglitazone HCl
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.
Actos: 15 mg, 30 mg, 45 mg
Generic: 15 mg, 30 mg, 45 mg
Brand Names: U.S.
- Antidiabetic Agent, Thiazolidinedione
Thiazolidinedione antidiabetic agent that lowers blood glucose by improving target cell response to insulin, without increasing pancreatic insulin secretion. It has a mechanism of action that is dependent on the presence of insulin for activity. Pioglitazone is a potent and selective agonist for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARgamma). Activation of nuclear PPARgamma receptors influences the production of a number of gene products involved in glucose and lipid metabolism. PPARgamma is abundant in the cells within the renal collecting tubules; fluid retention results from stimulation by thiazolidinediones which increases sodium reabsorption.
Vd (apparent): 0.63 ± 0.41 L/kg
Hepatic (99%) via CYP2C8 and 3A4 to active and inactive metabolites; M-III and M-IV are major circulating active metabolites
Urine (15% to 30%) and feces as metabolites
Onset of Action
Delayed; Peak effect: Glucose control: Several weeks
Time to Peak
~2 hours; delayed with food
Parent drug: 3 to 7 hours; M-III and M-IV metabolites: 16 to 24 hours
Pioglitazone >99% and active metabolites >98%; primarily to albumin
Use: Labeled Indications
Diabetes mellitus, type 2: As an adjunct to diet and exercise, to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus
Hypersensitivity to pioglitazone or any component of the formulation; NYHA Class III/IV heart failure (initiation of therapy)
Canadian labeling: Additional contraindications (not is U.S. labeling): Any stage of heart failure (eg, NYHA Class I, II, III, IV); serious hepatic impairment; active bladder cancer; history of bladder cancer; uninvestigated macroscopic hematuria; pregnancy
Diabetes mellitus, type 2: Oral:
Initial: 15 to 30 mg once daily; patients with heart failure (NYHA Class I or II) should initiate therapy with 15 mg once daily. Note: Not recommended in patients with symptomatic heart failure
Dosage titration: Based on HbA1c, the dosage may be increased in 15 mg increments up to a maximum of 45 mg once daily; monitor closely during titration for adverse effects (eg, weight gain, edema, signs/symptoms of heart failure)
Dosage adjustment for hypoglycemia with combination therapy:
With an insulin secretagogue (eg, sulfonylurea): Decrease the insulin secretagogue dose.
With insulin: Decrease insulin dose by 10% to 25%; individualize further adjustments per glycemic response
Dosage adjustment with strong CYP2C8 inhibitors (eg, gemfibrozil): Maximum recommended dose: 15 mg once daily
Refer to adult dosing.
Dosing: Renal Impairment
No dosage adjustment necessary.
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
Hepatic impairment prior to initiation: No dosage adjustment necessary; use with caution if baseline liver tests are abnormal
Hepatic impairment during therapy: If liver injury is suspected (eg, fatigue, jaundice, dark urine): Interrupt therapy, measure serum liver tests, and investigate possible etiologies:
If an alternative etiology is not identified and ALT >3 x ULN: Do not reinitiate therapy.
If an alternative etiology is identified and ALT elevated (but <3 x ULN) or total bilirubin elevated (but <2 x ULN): May reinitiate with caution.
Oral: May be administered without regard to meals
Individualized medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is an integral part of therapy
Store at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted to 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F). Protect from light, moisture, and humidity.
Abiraterone Acetate: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Androgens: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Exceptions: Danazol. Monitor therapy
Clopidogrel: May increase the serum concentration of Pioglitazone. Monitor therapy
CYP2C8 Inhibitors (Moderate): May decrease the metabolism of CYP2C8 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy
CYP2C8 Inhibitors (Strong): May increase the serum concentration of Pioglitazone. Management: Limit pioglitazone adult maximum dose to 15 mg/day when used in combination with any strong CYP2C8 inhibitor. Consider therapy modification
Dabrafenib: May decrease the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High risk with Inducers). Management: Seek alternatives to the CYP2C8 substrate when possible. If concomitant therapy cannot be avoided, monitor clinical effects of the substrate closely (particularly therapeutic effects). Consider therapy modification
Deferasirox: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Monitor therapy
Gemfibrozil: May decrease the metabolism of Thiazolidinediones. Management: Limit pioglitazone maximum adult dose to 15 mg/day, and consider dose reduction of rosiglitazone, when used in combination with gemfibrozil. Consider therapy modification
Guanethidine: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Hyperglycemia-Associated Agents: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents: Antidiabetic Agents may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Hypoglycemia-Associated Agents. Monitor therapy
Insulins: Pioglitazone may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Insulins. Specifically, the risk for hypoglycemia, fluid retention, and heart failure may be increased with this combination. Management: If insulin is combined with pioglitazone, dose reductions should be considered to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. Monitor patients for fluid retention and signs/symptoms of heart failure. Consider therapy modification
Lumacaftor: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High Risk with Inhibitors or Inducers). Lumacaftor may decrease the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High Risk with Inhibitors or Inducers). Monitor therapy
MiFEPRIStone: May increase the serum concentration of CYP2C8 Substrates (High risk with Inhibitors). Management: Use CYP2C8 substrates at the lowest recommended dose, and monitor closely for adverse effects (including myopathy), during and in the 2 weeks following mifepristone treatment. Consider therapy modification
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Monitor therapy
Pegvisomant: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Monitor therapy
Pregabalin: May enhance the fluid-retaining effect of Thiazolidinediones. Monitor therapy
Prothionamide: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Monitor therapy
Quinolones: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Quinolones may diminish the therapeutic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Specifically, if an agent is being used to treat diabetes, loss of blood sugar control may occur with quinolone use. Monitor therapy
RifAMPin: May increase the metabolism of Thiazolidinediones. Management: Consider alternatives to the concomitant use of rifampin with thiazolidinedione antidiabetic agents. Monitor patients receiving these combinations for decreased effects of the thiazolidinedione derivative. Consider therapy modification
Ritodrine: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Salicylates: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Monitor therapy
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: May enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Blood Glucose Lowering Agents. Monitor therapy
Sulfonylureas: Thiazolidinediones may enhance the hypoglycemic effect of Sulfonylureas. Management: Consider sulfonylurea dose adjustments in patients taking thiazolidinediones and monitor for hypoglycemia. Consider therapy modification
Thiazide and Thiazide-Like Diuretics: May diminish the therapeutic effect of Antidiabetic Agents. Monitor therapy
Topiramate: May decrease the serum concentration of Pioglitazone. Monitor therapy
Trimethoprim: May decrease the metabolism of Thiazolidinediones. Monitor therapy
Adverse reactions and incidences reported are associated with monotherapy unless otherwise stated.
Cardiovascular: Edema (combination trials: ≤27%)
Endocrine and metabolic: Hypoglycemia (combination trials: ≤27%)
Respiratory: Upper respiratory tract infection (13%)
1% to 10%:
Cardiovascular: Cardiac failure (combination trials: ≤8%)
Central nervous system: Headache (9%)
Neuromuscular & skeletal: Bone fracture (females: ≤5%), myalgia (5%)
Respiratory: Sinusitis (6%), pharyngitis (5%)
Frequency not defined:
Endocrine & metabolic: Decreased serum triglycerides, increased HDL-cholesterol, weight gain, weight loss
Hematologic & oncologic: Decreased hematocrit, decreased hemoglobin
<1%, postmarketing, and/or case reports: Bladder carcinoma, blurred vision, decreased visual acuity, dyspnea (associated with weight gain and/or edema), hepatic failure (very rare), hepatitis, increased creatine phosphokinase, increased serum transaminases, macular edema (new-onset or worsening), pulmonary edema, rhabdomyolysis
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• Bladder cancer: An FDA review concluded that although clinical trial data are inconsistent regarding the risk of bladder cancer in patients exposed to pioglitazone, there is still the potential for an increased risk and package labeling has been updated to reflect this. Avoid use of pioglitazone in patients with active bladder cancer and consider risks versus benefits prior to initiating therapy in patients with a history of bladder cancer.
• Edema: Dose-related edema, including new-onset or exacerbation of existing edema, has been reported; use with caution in patients with edema. Monitor for signs/symptoms of heart failure.
• Fractures: An increased incidence of bone fractures in females treated with pioglitazone has been observed; majority of fractures occurred in the lower limb and distal upper limb. Consider risk of fracture prior to initiation and during use.
• Heart failure/cardiac effects: [US Boxed Warning]: Thiazolidinediones, including pioglitazone, may cause or exacerbate heart failure; closely monitor for signs and symptoms of heart failure (eg, rapid weight gain, dyspnea, edema), particularly after initiation or dose increases; if heart failure develops, treat accordingly and consider dose reduction or discontinuation of pioglitazone. Not recommended for use in any patient with symptomatic heart failure. Initiation of therapy is contraindicated in patients with NYHA class III or IV heart failure; if used in patients with NYHA class I or II (systolic) heart failure, initiate at lowest dosage and monitor closely.
• Hematologic effects: May decrease hemoglobin/hematocrit; effects may be related to increased plasma volume.
• Hepatic effects: Hepatic failure, including fatalities, has been reported. Monitor for signs/symptoms of liver injury closely during therapy; discontinuation of therapy may be necessary.
• Hypoglycemia: The risk of hypoglycemia is increased when pioglitazone is combined with insulin or other diabetic medications; dosage adjustment of concomitant hypoglycemic agents may be necessary.
• Macular edema: Has been reported with thiazolidinedione use, including pioglitazone; some patients with macular edema presented with blurred vision or decreased visual acuity, and most had peripheral edema at time of diagnosis. Patients should be seen by an ophthalmologist if any visual symptoms arise during therapy and all diabetic patients should have regular eye exams.
• Weight gain: Dose-related weight gain observed with use; mechanism unknown but likely associated with fluid retention and fat accumulation.
• Diabetes, type 1: Mechanism requires the presence of insulin; therefore, use in type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent, IDDM) or diabetic ketoacidosis is not recommended.
• Hepatic impairment: Due to the possible risk of drug-induced liver injury, serum liver function tests (ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin) should be obtained prior to initiation in all patients. In patients with abnormal hepatic tests, therapy should be initiated with caution. During therapy, if signs/symptoms of liver injury (eg, fatigue, anorexia, jaundice, dark urine, right upper abdominal discomfort) arise, interrupt pioglitazone therapy, obtain liver tests immediately and evaluate alternative etiologies. If an alternative etiology is not identified and serum ALT is >3 × ULN, do not resume therapy. Patients with serum ALT >3 × ULN and serum total bilirubin >2 × ULN are at risk for severe drug-induced liver injury.
Concurrent drug therapy issues:
• Drug-drug interactions: Potentially significant interactions may exist, requiring dose or frequency adjustment, additional monitoring, and/or selection of alternative therapy. Consult drug interactions database for more detailed information.
Hemoglobin A1c (at least twice yearly in patients who have stable glycemic control and are meeting treatment goals; quarterly in patients not meeting treatment goals or with therapy change [ADA 2018a]), serum glucose.
Liver enzymes (ALT, AST, alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin) prior to initiation in all patients (with or without liver disease); continue routine periodic monitoring during treatment only in patients with liver disease or suspected liver disease.
Signs and symptoms of fluid retention or heart failure; weight gain; signs/symptoms of bladder cancer (dysuria, macroscopic hematuria, dysuria, urinary urgency); ophthalmic exams
Information related to the use of pioglitazone in pregnant women is limited (Glueck 2003; Ortega-Gonzalez 2005; Ota 2008). Thiazolidinediones may cause ovulation in anovulatory premenopausal women, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy.
In women with diabetes, maternal hyperglycemia can be associated with congenital malformations as well as adverse effects in the fetus, neonate, and the mother (ACOG 2005; ADA 2018c; Metzger 2007). To prevent adverse outcomes, prior to conception and throughout pregnancy maternal blood glucose and HbA1c should be kept as close to target goals as possible but without causing significant hypoglycemia (ADA 2018c; Blumer 2013).
Agents other than pioglitazone are currently recommended to treat diabetes in pregnant women (ADA 2018c).
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Patient may experience headache, common cold symptoms, sinus pain, pharyngitis, muscle pain, or flatulence. Have patient report immediately to prescriber signs of heart problems (cough or shortness of breath that is new or worse, swelling of the ankles or legs, abnormal heartbeat, weight gain of more than five pounds in 24 hours, dizziness, or passing out), bone pain, severe loss of strength and energy, angina, vision changes, painful urination, hematuria, polyuria, signs of low blood sugar (dizziness, headache, fatigue, feeling weak, shaking, tachycardia, confusion, increased hunger, or sweating), or signs of liver problems (dark urine, fatigue, lack of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, light-colored stools, vomiting, or jaundice) (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
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- Drug class: thiazolidinediones
- FDA Alerts (4)
Other brands: Actos