Compare Actos vs. Human insulin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.


(Human Insulin)

Lowers blood sugar. Actos (Pioglitazone) is a last-choice blood sugar-lowering medicine since it's only moderately effective but has a lot of undesirable side effects.Lowers blood sugar. This form of insulin is one of the few medications in its class that you can get without a prescription, but it's expensive.
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Reviews & ratings
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Reviews for Actos (Pioglitazone)
of people say Actos (Pioglitazone) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
173 reviews
Reviews for Humulin (Human Insulin)
+25% vs. Actos (Pioglitazone)
+15% vs. Actos (Pioglitazone)
+10% vs. Actos (Pioglitazone)
Side effects
ActosHuman insulin
  • Swelling due to excess fluid 11%
  • Low blood sugar 8%
  • Ear, nose, or throat infection 4%
  • Sore throat 4%
  • Cardiac failure 2%
  • Muscle pain 2%
  • Headache 2%
  • Back pain 1%
  • Sinus inflammation 1%
More Actos side effects »

The Human insulin FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Human insulin side effects »
How it works
ActosHuman insulin
Actos (Pioglitazone) is an anti-diabetic drug. It improves your body's ability to use insulin to lower your blood sugar.Insulin is a hormone normally produced by your pancreas. It helps your body absorb and store sugar and fat from your bloodstream.
Type of medication
ActosHuman insulin
Prescription only
Prescription only
Available as
ActosHuman insulin
  • Pill
  • Injection
  • Inhaler
Used for (click to learn more)
ActosHuman insulin
Risk factors for serious side effects
ActosHuman insulin
  • Heart failure diagnosis
    • Current liver problems
      • Female
      Detailed Actos (Pioglitazone) risks & warnings »
            Detailed Humulin (Human Insulin) risks & warnings »
            Pregnancy category
            ActosHuman insulin
            CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            See the FDA package insert
            BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

            Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

            See the FDA package insert
            No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
            No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
            Kidneys and liver
            No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
            No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
            No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
            • More likely to cause weight gain (2 to 6 pounds or more) compared to other blood sugar-lowering medicines.
            • Can cause weight gain, headache, and fluid retention.
            • Actos (Pioglitazone) can cause too much fluid buildup in your body, which can cause or worsen congestive heart failure. Your doctor should follow your blood tests and weight closely when you start Actos (Pioglitazone) or increase your dose. People with heart failure classification NYHA Class III/IV shouldn't use Actos (Pioglitazone).
            • Actos (Pioglitazone) may increase fluid buildup in your body, called edema. The risk increases with a higher dose. Tell your doctor about any unexpected weight gain, swelling of extremities, or trouble breathing.
            • People on Humulin (Human Insulin) can experience weight gain. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about changing your diet if this bothers you.
            Upsides and benefits
            ActosHuman insulin
            • Oral blood sugar-lowering medicine.
            • Lowers A1c levels by around 1%. (Hemoglobin A1c measures your average blood sugar over time.)
            • Prevents the harmful effects of high sugar levels on your organs and blood vessels.
            • Rarely causes low blood sugar.
            • Some types of this medication are available without a prescription.
            • Available as a shot to be injected into the fatty part of the skin, and as a powder to be inhaled through your nose.
            • Available in different combinations so that you can do one shot or multiple shots a day.
            Downsides and risks
            ActosHuman insulin
            • May take several weeks to lower blood sugar.
            • You have to check your blood sugar regularly with this medicine.
            • Has more side effects than similar medicines, so it's usually not the first choice for new Type 2 diabetes patients.
            • More likely to cause weight gain (2 to 6 pounds or more) compared to other blood sugar-lowering medicines.
            • Up to 1 in 10 people might get fluid retention (edema), ranging from mild ankle swelling to severe swelling in the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. People with severe congestive heart failure shouldn't use Actos.
            • Raises the risk of bone fractures, especially for people who already have a risk for fractures.
            • Slightly raises the risk of bladder cancer.
            • Has to be taken exactly as directed or it can cause high or low blood sugar.
            • As with all insulins, you have to work with your doctor closely to make sure you're giving yourself the correct dose, or you can have low or high blood sugar.
            Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
            ActosHuman insulin
            • Takes several weeks to see full effect on blood sugar control.
            • Can cause weight gain, headache, and fluid retention.
            • Tell your doctor about any mental confusion, persistent abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing of eyes/skin, or easy bruising.
            • Not recommended for patients with certain heart problems.
            • Check your blood sugar regularly.
            • Change the location where you give yourself the shot every time.
            • Don't use if the liquid in the vial looks different than normal.
            • Store the unopened vials in the refrigerator. The used vials can be kept at room temperature for up to 28 days.
            • Take the medication exactly how your doctor tells you to.
            • Know the symptoms of low blood sugar.
            Learn more
            More about ActosSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            More about Human insulinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert