Takeda and Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug, Actos (pioglitazone), may yet prove to be beneficial to the heart – according to study results published in the May 17 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Specifically, patients given Actos saw a reduced thickening of the carotid artery in the neck, alongside improved markers for insulin resistance, blood pressure and C-reactive protein – an inflammatory agent. All factors contribute to an overall risk for cardiovascular disease, said lead investigator, Thomas Forst, of the Institute for Clinical Research and Development in Mainz, Germany, adding: “We are encouraged by these results because the benefits seen with pioglitazone [Actos] could, theoretically, lead to an overall reduction in the incidence of heart attack and stroke for people with type 2 diabetes.” For people with type 2 diabetes, the risk of cardiovascular disease is two to four times that of the general population, thus making this population a very high-risk group.

Lilly and Takeda are currently looking at the effect of Actos on heart disease in type 2 diabetics in the so-called PROactive study, which has enrolled more than 5,200 patients across 19 countries [[28/06/04e]]. In addition to investigating Actos’ impact on indicators of cardiovascular risk, including lipid profile and C-reactive protein, the study will also measure whether these effects translate into a reduction in cardiovascular mortality and morbidity.